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I'M RIGHT AND YOU'RE AN IDIOT: THE TOXIC STATE OF PUBLIC DISCOURSE AND HOW TO CLEAN IT UP.

24/11/2017

Author, James Hoggan to present at the 2018 AELERT Conference   

Jim Hoggan is one of Canada’s most respected public relations advisors. As founder and president of Vancouver-based Hoggan & Associates, Jim is the specialist companies big and small call when a serious PR crisis hits.  

Throughout his career, Jim has helped business leaders and public officials navigate the glare of television cameras, social media frenzies and bad news stories. His expertise has resulted in many awards, including the public relations industry’s prestigious Silver Anvil for the best crisis management strategy in North America and awards for ethics in public relations. 

Since hanging out his shingle in 1984 he has dealt with all kinds of prickly front page public relations controversies and crisis situations —food poisonings, labor disputes, animal cruelty charges, bodies disappearing from funeral homes, Taser deaths, multimillion dollar bank fraud, exploding sawmills and sex scandals.  

He is seen as one of the gurus in his field, whether defending the reputations of prominent corporations, public institutions or the leaders who run them.   A tireless advocate for ethics in public discourse, he founded the influential online environmental news site DeSmog, named one of Time Magazine’s best blogs in 2011.  

Hoggan has chaired and served on numerous national and international boards and advisory committees including Shell Global’s External Review Committee in The Hague, the Dalai Lama Centre for Peace and Education and Al Gore's Climate Reality Project Canada.  

He is the author of three books including Do the Right Thing: PR Tips for a Skeptical Public and Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming. 

NT EPA - Successful prosecution for environmental harm

22/11/2017

The Northern Territory Environment Protection Authority (NT EPA) has welcomed a decision by the Darwin Local Court to fine a real estate development company for several offences under the Waste Management and Pollution Control Act.

Elias Investments Pty Ltd was ordered to pay $71,200 in fines plus $5,300 in court costs and victims levies after pleading guilty to causing material environmental harm contrary to section 83(4) and guilty to contravening or failing to comply with a pollution abatement notice in contravention of section 80(2).

Company director John Christopher Anictomatis also pleaded guilty for contravening or failing to comply with a pollution abatement notice in contravention of section 91(2) of the Act, with no fine or conviction recorded.

NT EPA Chairman Dr Paul Vogel said the successful prosecution relates to noise being generated from the industrial plant room of the Supermarket in Rosebery, Palmerston, with unacceptable impacts on nearby residents.  Complaints to the NT EPA were reported by members of the community including those who live nearby.

Dr Vogel said excessive noise falls into the definition of environmental harm and all complaints made to the 1800064567 Pollution Hotline are investigated.

A court order was also made to rectify the situation before the plant room is used again.

“Territorians should all be able to enjoy the simple pleasures of sitting outside on their balcony without unacceptable noise levels,” Dr Vogel said.

This company’s continual non-compliance with the Waste Management and Pollution Control Act resulted in an unacceptable impact on nearby residents and today’s orders made by the Darwin Local Court confirm this.

“The NT EPA believes that environmental offences are serious,” Dr Vogel said.

“Where alleged offences cannot be resolved through other means, the NT EPA will take appropriate enforcement action, including prosecution, in order to achieve its environmental objectives.”

Environmental protection is important to Territorians which is why the Territory has strong laws to protect the environment and human health and amenity.

“The lack of planning and then the subsequent inaction by Elias Investments after becoming aware of the noise and its impacts has resulted in today’s outcome, which should be a reminder to all building owners and developers that their environmental responsibilities start at the planning stage,” Dr Vogel said.

“Building owners and developers have a responsibility to ensure compliance with all legislation and regulations within the Northern Territory.”

Media Contact – Department of Environment and Natural Resources – 0437 915 366

 

Founder of 1 Million Women, Natalie Isaacs to present at the 2018 AELERT Conference

22/11/2017

AELERT is pleased to announce, 1 Million Women Founder and CEO Natalie Isaacs is confirmed as a guest speaker at the 2018 AELERT Conference to be held in Sydney, 14 - 16 February, 2018.  

Natalie set out to build a global movement of women and girls, and empower them to act on climate change through the way they live. Natalie is a mother-of-four who ran her own cosmetics company for two decades, before she had what she calls her ‘climate change epiphany’. Here is her story ...  

In 2006, my lifestyle was very different. I was a cosmetics manufacturer, my life was all about over-packaging and I thought climate change was someone elses problem. But the very short story is I had an epiphany and I changed. There were several things that led to it but ultimately the thing that really connected was I got our household electricity consumption down by 20% and when I saw that I had saved a heap of money and carbon pollution I realised I was powerful.

At that very moment I took ownership of the issue. I realised every single thing we do shapes the kind of world we want to live in. I realised that as individuals and as a collective we are incredibly powerful. That's what led me to start 1 Million Women (1MW) a few years later.  

I left behind the over-packaged world of skincare and beauty products, and began building a global movement of women and girls. My aim was to empower women everywhere to act on climate change through the way they live.  

To empower people is a truly glorious thing to wake up for, and 1 Million Women is now a movement of 600,000+ women and girls (and growing everyday).  

In Australia and around the world women make 85% of the consumer decisions that affect the household's carbon footprint – we can influence through every dollar we spend and every choice we make. The world needs a lifestyle revolution. It's easy to sign a petition or to put pressure on governments and march on the streets, which we have to do, but we can't do that on the one hand, and then live our lives with overconsumption on the other. It's about bite sized changes - reduce your household energy, buy quality not quantity, cut your meat consumption by half. If a million of us did it, imagine the result. Wherever you are, on your journey, whether you just want to get started, or you're way down the track, what's important is that you just act.  

I'm so inspired by every person who joins our movement. I know through my own climate journey from apathy to action that profoundly changing your lifestyle is not easy, but it is key to solving the challenge of climate change.  

How we live each day matters. One small action at a time multiplied by millions and millions changes the system.  

In 2013, the United Nations awarded 1 Million Women as one of six women-led grassroots climate action programs – selected from hundreds around the world - to be highlighted as ‘lighthouse activities’ for the planet.

For more information visit www.1millionwomen.com.au

NSW EPA holds environmental offenders to account with the Courts imposing over $3.5 million in penalties in 15 months

26/10/2017

Source: NSW EPA

The NSW Environment Protection Authority’s tough stance against those that break environmental laws resulted in a record in financial penalties being imposed in the last financial year.  

EPA CEO and Chair Barry Buffier said those that breached environmental laws, failed to meet the expectations of the community and the EPA and consequently paid a high price.  

“Last financial year (2016-17) the EPA completed 103 prosecutions with a record $2,448,455 in financial penalties being imposed by the Courts,” Mr Buffier said.  

“The EPA has an exceptional prosecution record, this includes a historical success rate of greater than 95% in its prosecutions.”  

Also in the last financial year, the EPA issued 261 penalty notices with about $1.9 million in penalties being imposed. (This excludes Hey Tosser and motor vehicle penalty notices).  

Some notable prosecutions in the last financial year;

  • Fines totalling $390,000 were imposed on businessman Phillip Foxman and his two companies for waste offences
  • Financial penalties of $360,000 were imposed on Custom Chemicals Pty Ltd for discharging a mix of chemicals into a pond at the rear of the premises.
  • Fines of $460,000 were imposed on Dyno Nobel for pollution of waters and for breaching a licence condition.
  • Financial penalties of $400,000 were imposed on Caltex Australia Petroleum Pty Ltd for negligently contributing to conditions that gave rise to a substance escaping in a manner that harmed or was likely to harm the environment.  

Mr Buffier said the EPA’s efforts to bring those that breach their environmental obligations to account has continued.  

“So far, this financial year (as at 12 October 2017) the EPA has completed more than 20 prosecutions, with over $1.29 million in financial penalties being imposed.”  

This includes the first NSW environmental prosecution where financial penalties imposed totalled over a million dollars. This was in the prosecution of Clarence Colliery Pty Ltd for two offences, one brought by the EPA and the other brought by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, after a large amount of coal material escaped from a coal storage area, causing significant impacts on the Wollangambe River and the World Heritage listed Blue Mountains National Park.

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