The Andrews Labor Government today announced a joint Government taskforce to target key recycling sites requiring extra management measures to ensure community safety.
The taskforce will comprise Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA), Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB), Country Fire Authority (CFA) and Emergency Management Victoria (EMV).
The taskforce will audit recycling facilities across Victoria, to identify and prioritise sites that require action such as a Fire Management Plan to better protect community. It will also consult with waste resource and recovery groups.
To ensure the taskforce has sufficient support to deliver immediate action, Minister D’Ambrosio intends to declare, under section 18B of the Environment Protection Act 1970, an interim waste management policy to require facilities to store materials in a manner that minimises risk to human health and the environment.
It will outline requirements for appropriate storage of recyclable materials, require risk assessment by operators, and compliance with fire services guidelines. Non-compliance with this interim policy could lead to sanctions under the Environment Protection Act 1970.
The interim policy will remain in place for 12 months while a more permanent solution is finalised.
The Environment Protection Bill 2017, which is currently before Parliament, will further clarify EPA’s role as a protector of human health and the environment.
The Labor Government is overhauling the Environment Protection Act. The cornerstone of the new legislation will be a general preventative duty to minimise risk of harm to human health and the environment.
The duty will require everyone, including operators of sites like that at Coolaroo, to take reasonably practical steps to minimise risks of harm from pollution and waste.
The Andrews Labor Government has already invested $162.5 million to further strengthen the state’s environment protection framework and bolster the EPA’s ability to prevent and reduce harm from pollution and waste.
The Labor Government has also set a 30 year Statewide Waste and Resource Recovery Infrastructure Plan to set the priorities for effectively managing waste, including providing a record $30.4 million over four years to improve waste and recovery resource management.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio
“We are taking immediate measures to ensure better protections for Victorians and our environment.”
“The Environment Protection Bill 2017, which is currently before Parliament, will further clarify EPA’s role as a protector of human health and the environment.”
Quote attributable to Minister for Emergency Services
“Nothing is more important than community safety, and that is why our emergency services will play a key role in this taskforce.”