The Environment Protection Authority is warning property owners to check fill before accepting it after a man who used fill contaminated with asbestos at two properties in Pitt Town was found guilty of causing land pollution and fined. Dirty Fill
EPA Director Major Compliance and Investigations Greg Sheehy said: “Fill may be free or cheap to bring on to a property, but if it is contaminated, the clean-up costs can be high – and the property owners can be left footing the removal bill as well as dealing with environmental pollution.”
Michael Anthony Laird pleaded guilty to two charges of causing land pollution in June 2017 at the properties in Cleary Drive, Pitt Town. He was convicted at Windsor Local Court on Wednesday, May 12th, 2021 following a prosecution by the NSW Environment Protection Authority.
He was ordered to pay over $220,000 in financial penalties and costs. The penalties included a fine of $28,000, the payment of clean-up costs of over $173,000, and legal and investigation costs of $20,000.
The court was told that the property owners engaged Mr Laird to bring in the dirt to create building pads and to level out a section of land for a retaining wall. Dirty Fill
During an inspection of the properties in late July 2017, Hawkesbury City Council officers stopped the works after they observed bricks, concrete, metal, glass, clay pipes, timber and small fragments of fibro in the fill material.
Sampling carried out by the EPA confirmed that the presence of asbestos in the fill materials was widespread.
As a result of the incident, 1,351 tonnes of contaminated fill had to be cleaned up and removed. Dirty Fill
EPA Director Major Compliance and Investigations Greg Sheehy said the EPA prosecuted Mr Laird after a lengthy investigation.
He said property owners should never accept fill without first checking it was legal, accompanied by a written report certifying the quality of the fill and its origins, and if council approval was required.
“The EPA’s message does not accept promises the fill will be clean. Make sure you check. Contaminated fill can contain anything from building waste to asbestos or chemicals and heavy metals that you do not want to expose your family to.”
Hawkesbury City Council’s Director City Planning, Linda Perrine, said: “Council is committed to ensuring that construction works in our City are done safely and do not pose any threat to our community or the environment. Dirty Fill
“Laws around the use and disposal of contaminated fill exist for a reason and we will not hesitate to act when these rules are being broken. Dirty Fill
“We hope this successful prosecution serves as a reminder to every one of their responsibilities to keep our environment and suburbs free from potentially dangerous waste.
“We thank the Environmental Protection Authority for their continued vigilance.”