Healthy Environment, Healthy Community, Healthy Business

Environment Protection Authority

EPA Connect Newsletter

Summer - December 2016

From the Chair and CEO

NSW EPA Chair and CEO Barry Buffier

Welcome to our final edition of EPA Connect for 2016. It’s been a busy couple of months since our last newsletter with some major initiatives and campaigns underway.

I’m pleased to report that the legislation enabling the Container Deposit Scheme passed Parliament in October. The scheme, which will allow people to return beverage containers for a 10-cent refund, will help achieve the Premier’s priority target of reducing litter volume by 40 per cent by 2020.

The Clean Air for NSW consultation paper is currently being exhibited for comment. The paper sets out the NSW Government’s priority areas for air quality and how industry, government, community groups and residents can work together for better outcomes.

Also on exhibition is the EPA’s review of the Load-based Licensing Scheme. We’ve prepared an issues paper for the review which examines how the scheme has been working since it was established in 1999 and identifies opportunities for improvement.

You can also read about the LeadSmart campaign which was launched at Broken Hill Central Pre-School in November. The campaign reminds Broken Hill residents of the simple things they can do to reduce their risk of exposure to lead. The campaign consists of radio, TV and social media advertising, as well as story and colouring books, recipe cards, brochures and fact sheets.

The EPA tabled its 2015-2016 annual report in November which documents the pivotal role the EPA plays in protecting the environment and community in NSW. Read about our achievements and programs in that period, including improving air quality, reducing waste, overseeing the gas industry, combating illegal dumping and holding polluters to account.

In this edition of EPA Connect we profile our head of Digital Design and Production Kate Gilroy. She and her team are in the midst of redeveloping the EPA’s website so it’s accessible and easy-to-use. We also profile Dirt Girl who received a Green Globe Award last month.

In the lead up to Christmas the EPA has taken to social media to remind the community of the importance of reducing waste with simple tips, including planning meals, using kids drawings for wrapping presents, storing festive food correctly and making the most of leftovers.

In between editions of EPA Connect, you can keep up with the latest news by following us on Twitter at @EPA_NSW

Wishing you all a successful and healthy 2017,

Barry

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We need you for a clean air future

Clean Air for NSW consultation paper

In October the NSW Environment Minister Mark Speakman released the Clean Air for NSW Consultation Paper  encouraging everyone to have their say on how we can improve air quality in NSW over the next 10-years.

 

The consultation paper is a culmination of the EPA’s work over the past six months and puts forward a plan for how we can all work together to improve air quality across the state.

Some priority actions identified in the paper include:

  • A review of air quality monitoring networks to improve understanding of pollution issues.
  • Improved forecasting and advice during hazard reduction burning.
  • Hosting a Clean Air Summit in Sydney in six months to allow stakeholders the opportunity to provide direct feedback on Clean Air for NSW.

EPA Chair and CEO Barry Buffier said research is showing that there are real health and economic benefits from reducing exposure to particle pollution across large populations.

“NSW has some of the toughest standards for fine particle pollution in the world and, while our air quality currently rates well, there are emerging pressures such as population growth and developments in infrastructure and transport projects that are going to impact on our air quality in the future.”

“In addition to the consultation paper, we’ve introduced new regulations on wood heaters sold in NSW to reduce wood smoke and improve air quality. These new regulations, which came into effect on 1 November 2016, now bring wood heaters sold in NSW in line with Australian and New Zealand standards.”

“Everyone has a role to play in helping improve air quality in NSW and the EPA will continue to work closely with other government agencies, researchers, industry and local communities to ensure we stay ahead of these expected changes and can continue to breathe the cleanest air possible in NSW.”

To have your say on the clean air future for NSW visit the EPA website. Submissions close 20 January 2017.

For more information on the new regulations on wood heaters, visit the EPA website.

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Have your say on Load Based Licensing

Load based licensing

We’ve had an issues paper on Load Based Licensing in NSW open for consultation this month.

Load Based Licensing encourages cleaner production by requiring some environment protection licence holders to pay part of their licence fees based on the amount of pollutants they are releasing into the environment.

The scheme has been active in NSW since 1999 with the publication of the issues paper marking the first major review.

EPA Chief Environmental Regulator Mark Gifford said the review of the scheme aimed to improve its effectiveness in reducing air emission and water pollutants.

“The Load Based Licensing Scheme has been an important regulatory tool for over 15 years, but it’s time to update it,” Mr Gifford said.

“The issues paper we have released examines how the scheme has been working and identifies opportunities for improvement.

“After we’ve gathered views, we’ll craft a proposal paper that will set out our recommended changes and an assessment of any likely financial impacts on licensee,” continued Mr Gifford.

“While this issues paper doesn’t set out an exact proposal for change yet, it is a starting point for genuine consultation on where we can take Load Based Licensing for the next 15 years.”

Licensees who were invited to participate in a preliminary survey indicated strong support for the principles of the scheme and identified a number of elements that could be improved.

Importantly, many indicated that the scheme provided an incentive to improve their environmental performance and uphold their corporate environmental responsibilities.

A copy of the draft issues paper and companion products are available on the EPA’s website.

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It's now even easier to be LeadSmart in Broken Hill

Children washing their hands

With some simple changes, residents of Broken Hill can reduce their risk of lead exposure thanks to the NSW Government’s Broken Hill Environmental Lead Program’s new campaign.

The campaign, aimed at reducing the blood lead levels in kids under five years old, features residents of Broken Hill giving their top tips to reduce lead exposure.

Broken Hill Environmental Lead Program Manager Peter Oldsen said the damage done by lead before the age of five had the potential to cause health, learning and behavioural problems.

“With some easy changes, we can all help protect our kids.  

“It really is so simple - regular hand washing, leaving work boots and work clothes outside and keeping homes as dust free as possible.

“Eating the right amount of fresh fruit, vegetables, fish and dairy is also known to reduce lead absorption and lower blood lead levels. There are some great recipes that can be found on the LeadSmart website.”

The LeadSmart campaign uses radio, TV and Facebook advertising, a dedicated website as well as brochures, factsheets, posters, recipe cards, a cookbook and kids educational tools.

The LeadSmart campaign is just one component of the Broken Hill Environmental Lead Program – other focus areas include lead remediation, research and monitoring.

LeadSmart materials were developed in partnership between the EPA, Far West Local Health District, Child and Family Health and Maari Ma Aboriginal Health.

For more information on how to reduce lead exposure, visit www.leadsmart.nsw.gov.au .

Simple ways to be LeadSmart:

  • Wash your hands before eating and after being outside
  • Keep children away from dust, dirt and soil. A sandpit that you can cover is a great play area
  • Wipe down children’s toys and household surfaces regularly
  • Eat lots of fresh, healthy food
  • Drink tap water, not rainwater
  • Check for old, flaking and chipping paint around the home
  • Keep young children and pregnant women away from renovations
  • Leave shoes, work boots and work clothes outside

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$337 Million waste boost for EPA

Waste Less Recycle More snapshot

The NSW EPA’s commitment to improving waste and recycling practices across the state has been given a boost with a $337 million extension to the Waste Less Recycle More grants and funding initiative.

This takes the total program funding to $802 million over nine years, to 2021. 

Extended funding includes $168 million Waste and Recycling Infrastructure package, as well as:

  • $70 million for local government waste and resource recovery
  • $65 million for illegal dumping
  • $30 million to tackle litter
  • $4 million for waste management in Aboriginal communities
  • $4 million for the Heads of Asbestos Coordination Authorities program

Already in the first four years the EPA has funded 1,000 projects that are expected to process 2.2 million tonnes of waste and create an additional 845 jobs.

The EPA is also pushing ahead with the rollout of the Container Deposit Scheme in 2017.

Invitations to pre-qualify have recently closed for the Scheme Coordinator and network operators, and the draft Regulation is on public exhibition until today.

The first meeting of the Minister’s Advisory Council took place in early December, bringing together representatives from the beverage industry, state and local government, environment, resource recovery, logistics, community engagement and regional and legal expertise to provide the Minister with advice on the Scheme.

The Container Deposit Scheme is NSW’s largest anti-littering initiative and will present a great opportunity for everybody to keep our environment clean and earn a reward for doing so.

For more information about Waste Less Recycle More and the latest on the container deposit scheme visit the EPA's website.

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Outcome focussed

Achievements from the EPA's annual report

The EPA tabled the latest Annual Report in November. The report, which highlights the EPA’s achievements for the 2015 – 2016 financial year, has a new look, with infographics throughout the text illustrating some of the key outcomes for the EPA’s operations and programs.

The report outlines the EPA’s significant progress on the Premier’s Priority of:

  • Reducing litter by 40% by 2020
  • The introduction of the most stringent air particle standards in the world
  • A successful first year as lead regulator of the NSW gas industry
  • The establishment of a state-wide program to investigate the impact of PFAS substances (per-and poly-fluorinated alkyl), following our response to firefighting foam contamination in the Williamtown area.

Over the year EPA littering and waste reduction programs continued to gain the support of the NSW community, with over 7,500 people registering to report littering from vehicles using the new ‘Report to EPA’ mobile app, and more than half a million households participating in our mobile Household Chemical CleanOut.

In 2015-16 our new risk-based licensing system got off to a good start, with the overall environmental risk level determined more than 1,400 licensed premises over the course of the year. EPA’s ability to protect the environment was also enhanced when we took over pesticide licensing from local council in September 2015.

With over $10 million in penalties imposed under EPA legislation, it’s clear we are holding polluters to account. The report includes several case studies of successful prosecutions and enforceable undertakings which demonstrate the EPA’s efficacy as a regulator.

Read more about the EPA’s achievements in 2015 – 2016 here.

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Final report of Botany Mercury Independent Review

Botany Mercury Independent Review Steering Panel

The Botany Mercury Independent Review into offsite mercury contamination was one of the most comprehensive investigations of its type in Australia.

The three-year review confirmed that the risk of mercury contamination for people who live, work or fish in the Botany area is no higher than for the general NSW population. 

The EPA has now released it’s final report which provides an overview of the three stage investigation and the processes undertaken to reach the final conclusion.

EPA Chief Environmental Regulator Mark Gifford said that the Botany Mercury Review Steering Panel was the driving force behind the review. The Steering Panel included representatives from the community, the EPA, the Office of Environment and Heritage, NSW Health, Randwick and Botany councils as well as an expert toxicologist and an independent chemical engineer.

“The Steering Panel members brought critical knowledge, insights and thinking to the Review and I would like to thank them for their spirit of cooperation, commitment and dedication to this process,” Mr Gifford said.

“The Mercury Review has allowed the EPA to better engage with the local community, providing increased knowledge and understanding that will assist us for many years to come,”

“Although the review presented a number of challenges for the Steering Panel, it has provided local residents and others with essential information about the risk for off-site mercury contamination, which the review found was low.”

More information about the Botany Mercury Independent Review is available at the EPA website.

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Stakeholder Profile

dirtgirl

dirtgirl- Compost rockstar!

It’s not often that we meet a stakeholder whose best friend is a garden gnome, but that’s dirtgirl.

As more and more households across NSW are growing gardens just about anywhere they can find room, the opportunity to promote compost as vital for the environment is increasing.

dirtgirl, along with scrapboy and Costa the Garden Gnome, are doing just that through their program Compost ROcks!   

Their plan is simple. Start a Compost Academy and get NSW excited about compost.

"Just as easily as you can recycle cans and bottles, you can recycle your organics.  Your food scraps and garden waste can be transformed into beautiful compost – soil for our future food!" dirtgirl said.

“It’s a perfect, sustainable cycle - our organic waste is recycled into compost that feeds our soil, the soil feeds our plants, the plants feed us and then any new plants scraps can then be recycled into more compost… perfect!

“Through partnering with the EPA, we’ve been able to start our Compost Academy with 10 Fabisodes (fabulous webisodes), a website and a toolkit for councils.” 

dirtgirl’s Get Grubby Project was recently awarded the Green Globe for Resource Efficiency. The EPA is a major sponsor of the Green Globe Awards which recognises excellence in environmental leadership in NSW.

You can join the Compost Academy by visiting http://compostrocks.com.au/

You can watch the 10 fabisodes here and find out just how much compost rocks here http://compostrocks.com.au/webisodes/ 

Check out Fabisodes 1, 2, 3 and 4 to find out how that compost is created from organic materials

Fabisode 5  is all about kerbside collection of recycled organics

Fabisodes 6 ,7 and 8 show how compost is created by recycling organics in the Clarence Valley

And you can wrap it all up by finding out how to use compost in Fabisodes 9 and 10

 

 

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Staff Profile

Kate Gilroy, Unit Head of Digital Design and Production

Kate Gilroy, Unit Head Digital Design and Production

“A good website should meet the audience’s requirements and be accessible,” Kate Gilroy explains.

For a year now, Kate has been working to redevelop the EPA’s current website.

“This redevelopment is about ensuring we are giving the audience what they are looking for and it’s easy to navigate,” said Kate.

“This involves not only making sure it works well on desktops and phones, but also that it can be easily interpreted by assistive technologies, such as screen readers and Braille translators, so that it is available to everyone.

“To determine what information the EPA’s audience is looking for, we conducted a survey and it confirmed to us just how diverse the EPA’s website audience is.

 “We also undertook a number of workshops to determine the information users required, and to test the structure of the site, navigation and language.

“The workshops provided a good insight into how community members interpret information and talk about the EPA. Sometimes organisations can get trapped into using technical terminology that’s not easily understood by the general community.”

Kate comes to the EPA from the University of Technology Sydney where she previously managed their website for 10 years.

“I enjoyed working at the University but was ready for a change, and the EPA offered an exciting new opportunity in a field that I support. The EPA is a fantastic organisation and I enjoy working with such a diverse range of people.

“I‘ve learnt a lot about recycling since joining the EPA and have been able to make some improvements at home to reduce waste and recycle more.

“I am an enthusiast for active transport, and enjoy walking and cycling to work and this is something the EPA really supports.”

The new website will be launched in the middle of next year.

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EPA's regulatory action

The EPA has many regulatory tools it uses to achieve environmental compliance. The following table provides a tally of the regulatory actions undertaken by the EPA across the state from October to December 2016.

REGULATORY ACTION

TOTAL

Inspections undertaken

414

Prevention Notices issued

2

Clean Up Actions issued

8

Penalty Notices issued

35

Smokey Vehicle Infringement Notices issued

 16

Noisy Vehicle Infringement Notices issued

 357

Infringement Notice for Littering from a motor vehicle issued

 1720

Environmental Programs

  • Environmental Improvement Programs commenced 

26

  • Pollution Reduction Programs commenced

34

  • Other Environmental Programs commenced

10

Environmental programs total worth

$ 9,309,000

Prosecutions

Prosecutions commenced

32

Prosecutions completed

26

Total financial penalties imposed

$463,970

Enforceable Undertakings (EU)

1

Prosecutions total worth

$535,970

TOTAL

$9,844,970

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Page last updated: 03 January 2017