New Victorian policy for management of waste stockpiles

The Victorian Government has established an interim Waste Management Policy (WMP) giving the EPA additional powers which will remain in place for 12 months until a permanent solution for the management of large scale waste stockpiles is finalised.

The policy, which follows the major fire at the Coolaroo recycling plant to the north of Melbourne in July, applies to operators of sites that store combustible recyclable and waste material.

It gives the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) additional powers to support Victoria’s fire services and issue remedial notices to facilities not properly managing potential fire risks. It also requires facilities to store materials in a manner that reduces risk to human health.

The interim policy follows the appointment of a joint taskforce comprised of the EPA, Metropolitan Fire Brigade, Country Fire Authority and Emergency Management Victoria to audit and assess the fire risk of sites. It complements the existing powers of councils and fire agencies.

The Environment Protection Bill 2017, which is currently before Parliament, clarifies the EPA’s role as a protector of human health and the environment, and further reforms to overhaul the Environment Protection Act next year are proposed.

The cornerstone of the new legislation will be a general preventative duty to minimise risk of harm to human health and the environment.

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