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Rotting carcass smell costs rendering company $200,000


Source: Environment Protection Authority Victoria

Meat rendering company, Australian Tallow Producers Ltd (ATP), has been fined $200,000 after they were found guilty of air pollution offenses on three separate occasions. The company manufactures tallow from mixed abattoir material at their rendering facility in Brooklyn, Victoria.

In June 2011, EPA investigated reports of an offensive odour coming from the facility, described as a “smell like sewerage, like rotting carcass” and a “strong putrid dead animal smell”. Residents described how the smell was impacting upon their lifestyle and ability to enjoy their homes, with one saying they had to “lock all the doors and windows and could not have any fresh air in the house”. Another complainant said that the smell made them feel like throwing up.

EPA officers confirmed the offensive odour during their investigation, with one officer reporting that they “felt close to vomiting”. Similar smells were also confirmed on two further occasions in June and September 2011.

ATP was convicted in the Melbourne Magistrates Court in December 2015 and was ordered to pay $200,000 to fund a local community environmental project. The fine will contribute to the Brooklyn Reserve Master Plan, allowing council to upgrade the local reserve area. The upgrade will include play equipment, park furniture and the planting of 40 trees. In sentencing, Magistrate Livingston said that while the fine was about punishment for the offense, it was also about giving the impacted community a gift.

EPA called on 11 witnesses, two expert witnesses and nine environment protection officers to provide evidence during the court proceedings. In addition, EPA has issued ATP with four pollution abatement notices requiring the company to fix environment control issues and reduce odour impacts. ATP was also fined over $7000 for a separate odour incident in 2013.

Read the official EPA Media Release.

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Season's Greeting from the Chair


Dear Members,

It’s hard to believe that a year has passed since my last end of year message; AELERT has been very busy! The highlight, of course, was the recent 2015 AELERT Conference in Brisbane which attracted over 300 participants. It was an invigorating two days, with inspiring and intelligent presentations both from our invited guests and from our peer presenters. I hope that the enthusiasm generated has translated back to each of your agencies. A conference report will be online shortly, while photos and videos are already available.

You would also have noticed that this year we moved further into the digital space. As well as using a mobile app at the conference for the first time, our newly redeveloped website allows you to connect better with your peers. This year we trialled two webinars in addition to live-streaming two conference sessions. Together these online events were viewed by more than 330 members.

Our clusters, the engine room of AELERT, have once again surpassed expectations. This year we welcomed the creation of the Forestry Compliance and Enforcement Working Group, and a new Emergency Operations Cluster. The Better Regulation Cluster finalised the acclaimed Modern Regulator Improvement Tool, while the Legal Practice Cluster published their Monetary Benefits Toolkit.

Next year is looking to be just as busy! In 2016 the Capacity Building Clusterembarks on a project to identify the core competencies of authorised officers and compile associated training resources. We plan to deliver a number of face-to-face, topic driven member events, in addition to another three webinars. Plus there are already whispers of a potential communications working group in the New Year. I encourage you to get involved where possible, and contact the secretariat with your ideas.

Thank you all for your continued support of AELERT, however you might be involved. I hope that you have a relaxing and enjoyable holiday. I wish you a Merry Christmas, and look forward to another busy and prosperous year in 2016.

Tony Circelli

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Expanded powers for New Zealand rangers


A new bill was introduced to New Zealand Parliament on 2 December, aimed at protecting vulnerable native wildlife from smuggling, poaching and hunting.

The bill gives Department of Conservation (DOC) rangers new powers when they encounter offenses in progress, including the authority to arrest when a serious offense is occurring or there is an obstruction of investigation.

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry highlighted the need for the Wildlife Act 1953 to be modernised, saying that the Act’s enforcement powers hadn’t been updated for 60 years and were “hopelessly out of date”.

“For example, the Act currently specifies that rangers can only call for assistance from men, if they need help from a member of the public” Minister Barry said.

If the Wildlife (Powers) Amendment Bill is passed into law, DOC rangers will be given four new standard powers:

  • The ability to take action to prevent an offence about to occur or in progress.
  • Temporarily stop persons suspected of an offence to allow investigation.
  • Seize a broader range of evidence such as laptops, cameras and mobile phones.
  • Require identification details from suspected offenders. 

Read DOC’s official Media Release for more information.  

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Larry Starfield answers AELERT members' questions


Larry Starfield, Deputy Assistant Administrator at US EPA, was a popular speaker at the recent 2015 AELERT Conference. He received many questions, both during his talk and afterwards while meeting with members.

Unfortunately he was not able to answer all questions he received at the time. However, Larry has kindly forwarded his responses to the un-answered questions. You can now access Larry's responses in the resources section of the AELERT website (member login required).

The questions include:

  1. Superfund - vapor intrusion: What are U.S. EPA’s criteria for deciding to take action, and has U.S. EPA issued any guidance?

  2. GMAP monitoring vehicle: What are the type of contaminants monitored, the approximate costs, etc.? 

  3. Are there opportunities for environmental regulators from Australia or New Zealand to work at U.S. EPA through a loan/exchange program?  If so, what is the process for that?

  4. Citizen Science: In Mr. Starfield’s talk, he mentioned that the Tonawanda Coke case began based on citizen monitoring through a U.S. EPA grant. What kinds of grants does U.S. EPA offer that could support citizen science? 

  5. Legal issues in U.S. Environmental Law: 
    a. Piercing the corporate veil.  What is the legal theory behind piercing the corporate veil in Superfund cases? 
    b.  Tolling agreements.  Could you share additional details on the use of tolling agreements? 

  6. IR cameras: Does U.S. EPA have any information on the capability, cost, and training required?

Read the responses

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Steering Committee Meeting Communique


The 34th meeting of the AELERT Steering Committee was held in Brisbane, Queensland on Tuesday 27 October 2015. Its focus was the finalisation of AELERT's governance review, a re-assessment of AELERT's events program and a cluster update. 

This communique summarises the outcomes from that meeting, including the following items:

  • Welcome to new committee member, Wes Ford, Tasmania Jurisdictional Representative
  • Finalisation of the AELERT Charter and work plan
  • Establishment of the Emergency Operations Cluster
  • Replacement of the biennial forum with smaller, topic driven events
  • Confirmation of three webinars in 2016, with the first focusing on crisis communications.

Download the communique

Communiques from the most recent meetings can be found on the Steering Committee page.

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INTERPOL 2nd Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Conference


On 16 and 17 November 2015 the Chair of AELERT, Tony Circelli, travelled to Singapore to attend INTERPOL’s 2nd Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Conference.  

Tony was invited to speak on the topic of Vibrant Networks and Capacity Development with fellow experts Chief Director Enforcement, Department of Environmental Affairs, South Africa, Frances Craigie and Executive Director, Chair of the Scottish Environmental Crime Task Force, Calum MacDonald.  

As environmental crimes occur within national, regional or global contexts and are increasingly connected to other crimes such as fraud, theft and various forms of trafficking, the role of networks such as AELERT in facilitating inter-agency cooperation and collaboration is becoming increasingly important.

Tony provided insight into how networks such as ours add tangible value and benefits across various sectors involved in environmental crime. He also spoke about the importance of bringing regulatory practitioners together with other law enforcement agencies to build intelligence and regulation interventions leading to successful outcomes in the apprehension and prevention of environmental crime and other illegal activities.

Further information about the Conference can be found here and Conference outcomes can be accessed here.


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