Asbestos removalist gets suspended sentence for assault but company fined for illegal stockpiles

Source: ABC News

A South Australian waste removalist convicted of assaulting two environment protection officers has been given a suspended sentence, but his company has been fined $49,000 for illegally storing more than 17 tonnes of asbestos.

The Environmental, Resources and Development Court heard Gavin Piller snatched a camera and audio recorder from the hands of the officers from SA's Environment Protection Authority (EPA).

The court heard Piller's company, GP and Sons, had a history of complaints dating back to August 2015, when the EPA attended one of the company's sites to discuss concerns over a large amount of dust causing an environmental nuisance.

EPA chief executive Tony Circelli said Piller's punishment sent a strong message to "anyone attempting to intimidate or assault EPA officers during the course of their duties".

He said the EPA officers were documenting the contents of two skip bins containing wrapped and unwrapped asbestos on April 3, 2018 at Largs Bay when they were abused and attacked.

"This type of illegal activity will not be tolerated — it risks both harm to the environment and the community, and damages confidence for investment and fair play for legitimate waste operators," he said.

Piller wrote a letter of apology addressed to the court, the EPA and its officers, expressing regret and accepting "full responsibility for his poor and unacceptable behaviour that afternoon".

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