All Articles

Commercial fishing vessel fined for diesel discharge at Hobart Port

09/10/2017

The master and operator of a commercial fishing vessel were fined a total of $45,000 plus court costs in the Hobart Magistrates Court today for the unlawful discharge of diesel into the River Derwent in November 2015.  

Australian Longline Pty Ltd was prosecuted under the Pollution of Waters by Oil and Noxious Substances Act 1987 for discharging diesel into State waters.  

The Director of the Environment Protection Authority (EPA), Mr Wes Ford said that he welcomed the Magistrate’s decision and hoped that the fine, which is the largest single penalty of its kind imposed in Tasmania to date, would encourage people to take greater care in preventing such pollution incidents.

  “The significant sentencing today sends a clear message that polluting the environment – under any circumstances – is unacceptable and that action will be taken to prosecute offenders,” said Mr Ford.  

“It serves as an important reminder to the commercial fishing industry, and the community, that people must be vigilant and understand the law regarding environmental pollution,” he said.  

Approximately 400L of diesel fuel was accidentally discharged from the vessel ‘Janas’, during refuelling in Hobart Port at Macquarie Wharf No 3 on 5 November 2015. The vessel is operated by Australian Longline for commercial fishing operations.  

The incident occurred due to human error when the Chief Engineer failed to check a fuel valve and the crew failed to ensure that a bung in the ‘save all’ was in place during the refuelling. The diesel spill extended for about 3-400m from the vessel, and no environmental harm was recorded as a result.  

Magistrate Cooper acknowledged that the Janas crew responded promptly to the incident and cooperated with the investigation. In sentencing, he also acknowledged that both the company and the master had been charged and were required to pay court costs in addition to the fine.

2018 AELERT Conference

03/10/2017

Is being right enough?

Abstract submission deadline
16 October 2017

DON'T MISS OUT

The response to the Call for Abstracts for the 2018 AELERT Conference has been encouraging, with over 20 submissions received so far. 

Do not miss this opportunity to share your knowledge, research and projects with the wider regulation community and be a part of the 2018 AELERT Conference.

The Conference aims to strike a balance between technical and operational topics and broader policy and strategic discussions.
 
The conference program will include presentations from keynote and invited speakers, in addition to those presentations selected through the
Call for Abstracts process.

Presentations are not the only way your thinking can are shared, with some
abstracts to be selected to be displayed in the break-out areas as posters.

We encourage you to submit an abstract for an oral presentation or poster.

Learn more by visiting the Conference Pages

 

VIC: Release of the IWMP and Guideline for combustible recyclable and waste material

04/09/2017

Source: EPA Victoria

The Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, the Hon Lily D’Ambrosio MP, on 29 August 2017 announced a new Interim Waste Management Policy for Resource Recovery Facilities. The IWMP gives EPA VIC additional powers to support fire agencies reduce the risk of fires at Victorian waste and resource recovery facilities. http://www.premier.vic.gov.au/category/ministers/minister-for-energy-environment-climate-change/  

The IWMP applies to operators of sites that store a wide variety of combustible recyclable and waste material (CRWM) and requires storage of materials in a way that reduces risks to human health and the environment. The IWMP will remain in place for 12 months, during which time further solutions for improving fire safety at resource recovery facilities will be developed.  

EPA has developed a new guideline, that sits under the IWMP, to support industry and provide practical guidance for implementing the requirements in the policy. The guideline was developed in partnership with other government agencies such as MFB, CFA, local councils and MWRRG as well as in consultation with waste industry and resource recovery representatives.  

The guideline outlines requirements for a fire risk assessment, controls to reduce fire risk, a fire management plan and CRWM storage requirements for waste and resource facilities. The guideline will be used by EPA, CFA, MFB and operators of a broad definition of waste and resource recovery facilities to assess compliance with IWMP requirements. We will continue to work with industry towards long term solutions for recyclable materials.  

The policy and guideline can be accessed here: www.epa.vic.gov.au/our-work/setting-standards/management-and-storage-of-crwm  

If you have any questions in the meantime, please feel free to call EPA VIC on 1300 372 842 or email contact@epa.vic.gov.aucontact@epa.vic.gov.au

PODCAST: Who to prosecute where a company, executive officers and contractors are involved in an offence?

31/08/2017

This seminar on who to prosecute where a company, executive officers and contractors are involved in an offence provides an overview of some of the general considerations associated with what to look at and what to consider when faced with these particular situations.

There is a focus on 'Executive officer' provisions and some of the complexity and specific evidence that is required for those particular prosecutions. The purpose of the talk is to provide some practical tips for Prosecutors, Investigators and other compliance and enforcement staff in relation to dealing with matters that involve multiple parties. 

SPEAKER

Joshua Pemberton is a Lawyer/Prosecutor currently working in the Litigation Special Projects team in the Litigation Branch of the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection. Joshua has experience in primarily criminal, environmental and administrative law roles within the Queensland State Government. His main areas of expertise are in environmental law compliance and enforcement, with a focus on government regulatory practices in the conventional and unconventional petroleum and gas sector. He has experience within the Petroleum and Gas branch of EHP, worked for Legal Aid Queensland and the Australian Taxation Office. His current area of practical legal interest and research involves looking at director and/or executive officer liability in the Queensland environmental regulation sphere.     

Available for AELERT Members here:

GO TO PODCAST AND MATERIALS

SA Well Driller fined $60,000 after presenting false Licence

16/08/2017

A South Australian Well Driller has been convicted and fined $60,000 in the Adelaide Magistrates Court after he undertook work using a method of drilling he was not authorised to use and presenting a false Licence to a Drilling Inspector.

In July 2017 the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (the Department) prosecuted Jason Scott Kirk for 13 offences under the Natural Resources Management Act 2004, including 11 charges of undertaking work using a drilling method not endorsed to use and 2 charges of presenting a false Licence to the Department’s Drilling Inspector.

Queries about Mr Kirk’s drilling activities were first raised in December 2015 when anomalies with the paperwork he had submitted to the Department were identified. The matter escalated following communications between the Drilling Inspector and Mr Kirk, where minor inconsistencies with the documents produced by Mr Kirk were identified. The licence documents presented to the Inspector revealed a higher classification and additional endorsements than those held legitimately by the Department.

Further investigation identified 11 wells that Mr Kirk had constructed in and around Adelaide over the preceding six months that he was not licensed to drill.

Although notified of the serious nature of the offending, Mr Kirk elected not to attend Court for sentencing and pleaded guilty in writing. At sentencing, Magistrate White commented on the calculated nature of the offending and the potential disaster that his unauthorised work could have caused.

You can read the 'Remarks on Penalty of Magistrate White' here.

 

Emergency Operations Cluster Update

02/08/2017

In February 2015 AELERT created a new cluster group, the Emergency Operations Cluster (EOC), chaired by Ken Raine from WA Department of Water and Environmental Regulation. 

This cluster was made up of a group of emergency responders to environmental incidents with the aim to share best practice and learnings across Australasia. The Cluster has grown, it now has members from every state and territory as well as New Zealand. Currently, the group membership is mainly environmental with the majority of its members coming from EPAs.  

Would you like to join the EOC? The EOC would like to see more representation from different areas of expertise, especially from local councils, natural resources and heritage regulators (wildlife and vegetation) and air and water regulators of AELERT.

The group customarily meet by teleconference four times a year to discuss major incidents, training, development, sharing information and ideas. 

Some of our significant learnings have been as follows:

  • NSW provided a consultant paper from asbestos issues following the Blue Mountains fire which was of great assistance to the SA State Recovery Office. 
  • WA has provided training opportunities for staff from other states.
  • NSW developed manager and executive incident management training from cross-jurisdictional learnings.   
  • SA shared its guidelines to the public around CCA posts and animal carcass disposal following natural disasters. 
  • Queensland gave guidance to the group around applying for disaster funding.
  • Victoria shared its learnings from the recent Coolaroo recycling plant fire.
  • NT alerted the group to the practice of companies moving its headquarters off shore and so limiting legal powers and action. 
  • New Zealand has shared learnings about disaster waste management following the Christchurch Earthquake.

On 20th July the EOC  met via teleconference and outlined its work plan for the forthcoming year, the main items are:

  • Interstate Assistance
  • Disaster Waste Management
  • A Glossary of Terms for Incidents ( so we all speak the same language)

Nigel Sargent, from NSW EPA’s Queanbeyan office, has proposed the next meeting will be a face-to-face and has approached the ACT Emergency Services Agency in Canberra.  They are happy to host the meeting and to give the EOC a tour of their Emergency Control Centre.  The Emergency Communications Team will also conduct a briefing around their SPOT App (Single Point Of Truth). It will provide an excellent opportunity for all of the EOC members and to see how a control room is set up would also be beneficial to the SA EPA.
 
The proposed meeting dates are 24 - 25 October 2017, and as EOC have not met face-to-face since October 2015, the general opinion was the next meeting we should be together to discuss and agree on the above cross state topics.
 
If you would like to be part of the group and feel you can contribute to its development and goals, please contact the current Chair Kevin Rowley at kevin.rowley@sa.gov.au

 

2018 AELERT CONFERENCE

17/07/2017

We are pleased to announce the 2018 AELERT Conference will be held in Sydney 14-16 February 2018 Aerial Function Centre, UTS, Sydney

The AELERT conference is a unique opportunity for environmental law practitioners, regulators and people working with our regulated communities to come together and share experiences, knowledge and expertise.

Hosted by the NSW Environment Protection Authority, the Conference will showcase the best examples of innovative solutions to real world problems and leading practice in environmental regulation from around the country and internationally.

The AELERT 2018 Conference program, to be held over two and a half days, aims to cater for wildlife, biodiversity and conservation, pollution, marine and water regulators working at all levels of government. As well as the other practice areas that fit within our umbrella (i.e. biosecurity, cultural heritage, climate change). 

The Conference aims to strike a balance between technical and operational topics and broader policy and strategic discussions.  

Considering the modern pressures and context of environmental regulation, this conference will ask the critical question: Is being right enough?

Do we need more than the traditional regulatory tools (i.e. legislation, regulation, incentives and information) to achieve good outcomes for the environment and the community? Do we need to rethink how we use these tools? Are there other things we can be doing to better achieve our objectives?

The conference theme is posed as a question to encourage thought and discussion on the topic throughout the entire program. Are you interested in presenting at the Conference?  We are dedicated to providing regulators with the opportunity to share stories, successes and learnings. Make sure your agency is represented by submitting an abstract. Find out more about the conference streams and the abstract criteria in the event section of this website.

Early bird prices for full registration start from just $999 for non-member agencies, including tickets to the welcome reception and conference dinner. That is a $100 saving if you book and pay before 17 November 2017.

This conference presents a fantastic opportunity for government agencies and other entities associated with environmental regulation to show their support for continuous improvement in the administration and enforcement of environmental legislation.

REGISTER NOW

We also invite you to consider joining AELERT. Membership is free and it offers many benefits such as opportunities to collaborate with other environmental regulators on common issues through forums, on-line communities and access to the resource library.

More information about joining AELERT can be found here.

QLD Event: Who to prosecute where a company, executive officers and contractors are involved in an offence?

30/06/2017

Invitation to a FREE seminar  

Date:    Thursday 13 July 2017
Time:    1–2pm (bring your lunch)
Cost:    FREE - limited spaces available
RSVP:   by Monday 10 July 2017
Venue:  Department of Environment and Heritage Protection
Level 3 (Room 3.17), Gondwana Rainforest Room 400 George Street, Brisbane (Only open to staff of AELERT member agencies)

RSVP

This seminar on who to prosecute where a company, executive officers and contractors are involved in an offence is the next in AELERT's bimonthy seminar series. It aims to provide an overview of some of the general considerations associated with what to look at and what to consider when faced with these particular situations.

There will be a focus on 'Executive officer' provisions and some of the complexity and specific evidence that is required for those particular prosecutions. The purpose of the talk will be to provide some practical tips for Prosecutors, Investigators and other compliance and enforcement staff in relation to dealing with matters that involve multiple parties. 

For further information contact Hayden Woodall at EHP who are hosting the event on (07) 3330 6010.

Speaker

Joshua Pemberton is a Lawyer/Prosecutor currently working in the Litigation Special Projects team in the Litigation Branch of the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection. Joshua has experience in primarily criminal, environmental and administrative law roles within the Queensland State Government. His main areas of expertise are in environmental law compliance and enforcement, with a focus on government regulatory practices in the conventional and unconventional petroleum and gas sector. He has experience within the Petroleum and Gas branch of EHP, worked for Legal Aid Queensland and the Australian Taxation Office. His current area of practical legal interest and research involves looking at director and/or executive officer liability in the Queensland environmental regulation sphere.     

 

 

AELERT PODCAST: Professor Andrew Hopkins presents ‘Improving the effectiveness of regulatory regimes’.

30/06/2017

Regulation is one of the most important components in preventing major accidents. 

Major accidents have organisational factors and in this podcast Professor Hopkins recommends how regulators can highlight those causes and challenge companies to do something about them.

LISTEN TO PODCAST

Andrew Hopkins is Emeritus Professor in the School of Sociology at The Australian National University. He is a distinguished scholar and an internationally- renowned presenter, author and consultant in the field of industrial safety and accident analysis.

Professor Hopkins has researched major industrial disasters in hazardous industries including investigations into disasters at the Moura and Gretley coal mines as well as the catastrophic BP Gulf of Mexico accident.  He was an expert witness at the Royal Commission into the causes of the fire at Esso’s gas plant at Longford in 1998 and in 2001 and an expert member of a Board of Inquiry into the poisoning of F111 maintenance workers at Amberley Air Force Base.

He has published widely across the field of organisational safety, authoring titles including Disastrous Decisions, Failure to Learn, Lessons from Longford, Lessons from Gretley, and Safety, Culture and Risk. These books have together sold more than 90,000 copies.

His primary research interests are occupational learning, expertise, and decision making. Recent research includes a study of generational change in the gas pipeline industry and its impact on safety practices and professionalism, and the present study of safety incentive schemes in hazardous industries.

Practical guidance for writing and interpreting conditions of approval for environmental regulators in Queensland

24/05/2017

Dr Chris McGrath recently spoke to the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection about environmental regulators in Queensland, who must write conditions prior to granting an approval and investigators who must interpret conditions after approval is granted, to determine whether a contravention has occurred.

His practical guidance overview covers four main areas:

  • What does an application apply to do and what does approval of it include?
  • Initial acceptance or rejection of an application.
  • Assessing an application and writing conditions.
  • Interpreting conditions after approval is granted to determine whether a contravention has occurred.

He has kindly supplied his summary for all AELERT members to view.

DOWNLOAD DOCUMENT

THE SPEAKER

Dr Chris McGrath is a barrister and a Senior Lecturer (Environmental Regulation) at the University of Queensland. He holds a BSc, LLB (Hons), LLM and PhD. He teaches Environmental Litigation at the Australian National University. Before being called to the Bar, he worked as an enforcement officer for the then Queensland Environmental Protection Agency.