When will the waste industry learn
The reality is, there has been a raft of fires in the waste industry all around Australia. I spoke at the Victorian Waste Management Conference back in July last year, and listed the reported fires and pointed out that their industry had more fires than the restaurant industry with the actual number of waste and recycling centres being the number of restaurants in this country.
Unless their industry adopts genuine risk management measures and stop acting like cowboys, then as an industry they would become uninsurable. That is, no insurance company will take on the risk.
As so often happens, a few are ruining it for the majority and after spending time with the attendees at the conference I came away with the strong feeling I was preaching to the converted and it was those in the industry that are not members of the association and that are in it for a quick buck, and it is those putting the public at risk and the rest of the industry.
It was therefore with great disappointment that I have seen reported fires still occurring at waste and recycling centres and then I read today that a massive stockpile of toxic chemicals had been uncovered in Melbourne’s north. I understand that the stock pile of dangerous chemicals is under 24-hour guard amid concerns a fire could occur at the site, which could dwarf the damage caused by the West Footscray industrial blaze, only last year.
It is reported that authorities discovered four warehouses in Epping, packed with industrial-size bins and drums that are collectively estimated to contain more than 1.2 million litres of chemical waste. My bet is that the stock pile is not insured and the storage of the chemicals in this quantity could effect the landlords own insurance. The chance of a valid public or product liability product being in place is slimmer than winning the upcoming $50 million lotto.
Of course, I have not even touched on the risk of environmental damage that the stockpiles create.
One report goes on to say:
“The containers are stacked to ceiling height and pushed into every square inch of the premises. It is not safe. It shows a complete disregard for the laws governing dangerous goods,” said Damian Wells, the EPA’s acting chief executive.
“This is at the extreme end of offending in terms of what we allege and there’s a complete disregard for community safety, complete shirking of responsibility.” (Source: The Age)
The discoveries in Epping and Campbellfield have reinforced concerns about Victoria’s growing illicit waste trade, where chemicals, asbestos, tyres and other toxic materials are being dumped in warehouses or on public land in the outer suburbs.
I am not sure what size catastrophe has to occur before this sort of behaviour ceases. In my view, any one involved in this practice should serve jail time.