Environment Protection Authority v Alcobell Pty Ltd; Environment Protection Authority v Campbell (2015)
Between 2010 and 2012, Alcobell Pty Ltd regularly transported and deposited about 6,500 tonnes of waste containing asbestos on three rural properties, one of which was owned by the company’s director, Mr Campbell.
The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) conducted an investigation into
these activities. During the investigation, Mr Campbell provided the EPA with a set of Alcobell’s internal running worksheets of daily waste loads, which were different to records later obtained under a search warrant executed by the EPA.
The NSW Land and Environment Court convicted and fined Alcobell and Mr Campbell a total of $87,000 for unlawfully transporting and dumping waste on three properties around Lithgow, and for providing false and misleading information to the EPA.
The Court accepted that the worksheets Mr Campbell provided to EPA investigators were merely an internal running record of work completed by Alcobell and were not intentionally falsified. The Court found that Mr Campbell’s conduct was not reckless or deliberate. However, his actions were negligent for a person involved in the transport of waste.
In relation to waste disposal, the Court noted that the defendants’ conduct should be understood as a failure to properly understand that the waste did not meet any relevant waste exemption and so could not lawfully be disposed of on any of the properties.
This case demonstrates that companies which generate waste material should strongly consider reusing it rather than allowing it to go to landfill. Given the strict regulations and requirements around waste disposal, further supervision of this activity is required to make sure these procedures are followed. If your business engages contractors to do this type of work, you also have an obligation to ensure they are implementing proper procedures. You must be able to demonstrate the steps you took to ensure this.