ENVIRONMENT Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has fined Mildura Rural City Council $16,120 for two licence breaches at the Mildura Landfill.

EPA officers conducted a compliance inspection at the Mildura Landfill on April 9, this year, and observed uncovered waste at the landfill, which was not on the active tipping face.

The tipping face of a landfill is the active area where trucks are unloading waste onto the pile.

EPA North West Manager, Dr Scott Pigdon, said it was a licence condition of the landfill to have daily cover on all waste as it minimises both odour and litter issues.

Meanwhile, on April 14, EPA officers were notified of a fire in a mulch stockpile at the landfill. 

Dr Pigdon said it was a licence condition of the landfill that waste not be burnt. He added that the small fire was quickly extinguished by council staff.

“Any fire at a landfill has the potential to have a negative impact on the surrounding community,” he said. “While this one was able to be contained, if it had spread to an area of mixed waste the smoke may have become toxic and harmful to human health.”

Dr Pigdon said EPA was working with Mildura Council, and had recently carried out additional routine inspections at the site, including through drone surveillance, to ensure compliance with their licence conditions.

“Licence conditions are created to minimise the risks to environmental and public health and address areas such as air and water discharges, odour and litter,” he said.

“EPA expects all licence holders to have systems, process and controls in place to ensure their operations remain compliant and have minimal impact on their local area.

“We know it is all too easy for loose items to be blown off landfills in the wind, which is why operators need to be vigilant on covering the non-active tipping areas. 

“The loose rubbish causes unsightly litter that has the potential to enter, and clog, the stormwater system.”

Council’s Manager Parks and Waste Services, Matt George, confirmed that Council staff had responded to a small mulch fire at the Mildura Landfill last month, which was caused by spontaneous combustion.

“The fire covered a two-metre area, and was extinguished by staff within minutes,” he said. 

“Emergency services were not required, and there was no evacuation due to the small nature of the fire and the quick response by Council staff.

“The Environment Protection Authority was immediately notified of the fire and Council staff continued to monitor the site to ensure the fire did not re-ignite. 

“The fire at no time threatened other areas of the landfill.

“While this incident was caused by spontaneous combustion, it serves as a reminder to Mildura Landfill customers that smoking is not permitted at the site. 

“With the onset of winter, residents are also reminded not to drop off ash with their garden waste, as it may not be fully extinguished and could pose a fire hazard.”

In regards to the fine for daily cover, Mr George said that Council covers the tip face every day to meet license requirements.

“This issue was caused by erosion by plant equipment operating over the already covered area,” he said.