Healthy Environment, Healthy Community, Healthy Business

Environment Protection Authority

Investigations into the remediation of South Grafton Sewage Treatment Plant finds waste transport issues

Media release: 23 December 2016

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is investigating several trucks that were not sealed correctly before transporting waste that potentially contained asbestos.

The EPA has been closely monitoring the remediation of the former South Grafton Sewage Treatment Plant by Clarence Valley Council, in response to a number of concerns raised by the community.

Adam Gilligan, Regional Director North, said a recent inspection observed trucks leaving the site with incorrectly sealed loads. The same contractors currently under investigation are also under investigation for similar issues in the Tweed area.

“I want to make it clear that, to date, Clarence Valley Council have taken appropriate steps in managing the environmental aspects of the remediation project.”

“However, the improper transport of waste potentially containing asbestos is a serious issue that warranted swift action to prevent a recurrence.”

“While the incident could have been serious, the EPA is satisfied that, on this occasion, the risk to the community was low,” continued Mr Gilligan.

“Although the trucks were not sealed correctly, precautions had been taken such as wetting the soil to prevent dust.”

“Likewise, the volume and nature of asbestos that was potentially present in the waste meant there was little risk to the community.”

Final investigations into this incident are expected to finish in early 2017 and further regulatory action may be taken subject to the findings of the investigation.

The EPA will take a range of factors into account to determine its regulatory response, including the degree of environmental harm, potential health impacts, compliance history, public interest and best environmental outcomes.

Contact: EPA Public Affairs

Page last updated: 23 December 2016