Friday 22 May 2020

Review slams Andrews Government’s environment regulator

In an independent review released today, scathing findings have been made about the Andrews Labor Government’s failure to protect the Victorian community from toxic waste.

 

This review comes after a spate of fires in Melbourne’s northern and western suburbs caused by the illegal stockpiling of chemical waste.

 

Residents in West Footscray, Coolaroo, Epping and Campbellfield were subjected to toxic smoke and chemical filled air for weeks in their suburbs. Schools were closed and residents were evacuated from their homes.

 

As of today, people are still warned to avoid contact with Stony Creek in West Footscray as a result on the unknown chemicals that leaked into the creek.

 

In a review conducted by accounting firm Ernst & Young, a number of failures of governance and accountability have been exposed in relation to the Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) monitoring of the disposal of chemical waste. The report found:

 

  • There were “gaps” in governance and oversight

  • There was a “lack of clearly defined standards and expectations for retaining key pollution report documents”

  • “Critical incident response decisions required improvement”

  • “Inconsistent approach to the documentation of pollution reports”

  • “Inadequate” monitoring and reporting

  • “Poorly designed key incident response performance metrics”

  • “Lack of clearly defined processes for incident reporting and responding”

  • “Public intelligence data and information was not effectively used”

  • Key performance indicators could be “circumvented” and “manipulated” by field officers”

 

Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Bridget Vallence:

 

“This report reveals a number of shocking failures by the EPA in protecting Victoria’s environment.

 

“The Andrews Government has delayed the introduction of new reforms to crack down on rogue operators because it claimed operators needed more time.

 

“We now know the real reason is because the Andrews Government not up to the job and has failed to protect our environment.

 

“Victorians will be alarmed to read reports that up to $230 million in taxpayer funds may be need to clean this up.”