A reckless act by a Jeetho farmer in South Gippsland has prompted a warning from EPA Victoria to other landowners.
Last week, EPA officers were called to a property after receiving reports of black, billowing smoke, to find the landowner burning tyres on a pile of cypress.
EPA’s Gippsland regional manager, Elizabeth Radcliffe said the toxic smoke from the fire caused a neighbour to be admitted to hospital with life-threatening breathing difficulties.
“Unfortunately this was not a lone event. With fire restrictions for summer around the corner, there are a lot of burn-offs underway in rural areas,” she said.
“The smoke that comes from burning household and commercial waste is highly toxic and poses a major risk to the health of people, stock and the environment.”
Under the Environment Protection Act 1970, it is a serious offence to cause an environmental hazard. The current penalty infringement notice is over $1400 for individuals and over $5800 for a company.
Higher fines of up to $280,000 can be levied by a court if matters proceed to prosecution.
Radcliffe said quick fix solutions, as tempting as they are, will result in serious penalties from EPA.
“While vegetation can be burned in controlled situations, the burning of other household and commercial waste is not allowed. Landowners should also check with CFA and their local council for any required permits,” she said.
“Landowners need to responsibly manage their properties and use the appropriate options, such as local council services and regional waste groups, to appropriately dispose of household and commercial waste,” Radcliffe said.
The Jeetho incident is currently under EPA investigation.
For further information on managing wastes, please contact EPA’s Gippsland office on 03 5173 9800 or 1800 444 004 or check out EPA Victoria’s What to do with Farm Waste brochure at www.epa.vic.gov.au/publications