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Ballina contractor fined for dumping asbestos

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A Ballina contractor has been fined $50,000 in the Lismore local court for illegally dumping building waste containing asbestos.   (file pic)
A Ballina contractor has been fined $50,000 in the Lismore local court for illegally dumping building waste containing asbestos.
(file pic)

A Ballina contractor has been fined $50,000 for illegally dumping demolition waste at a Lismore property.

Barry Curtis and his company ABC Ballina Asbestos & Demolition Pty Ltd copped the fine in Lismore Local Court after being prosecuted by the Lismore City Council.

The court heard that council compliance officers attended a property at Spring Street, East Lismore on 12 May last year to monitor the demolition of a fire-damaged premises.

A short time later, council staff saw a truck from the demolition site driving south on Woodlawn Road towards Lismore and decided to investigate.

The compliance officers discovered a large quantity of demolition waste dumped on a property at Houlden Road, North Lismore, and caught the tipper truck operator red-handed as the waste was being deposited.

The compliance officers found a total of five truckloads of waste – approximately 48 tonnes – that included a mix of bricks, concrete, timber, paper, plastic, glass, tin, metal, wire and dirt.

A sample of the waste was taken for analysis, which confirmed that the dumped material also included asbestos.

The court heard that the owners of the property at Houlden Road did not know the demolition waste was being dumped on their land.

Lismore magistrate David Heilpern said it was an ‘offence of greed’.

Mr Heilpern said the fact that a professional company with experience in asbestos would dump asbestos waste was ‘horrendous and beggars belief’.

Mr Heilpern noted previous enforcement action by council against Mr Curtis for waste dumping in the past, and stated that the offence was aggravated due to greed, public safety and that the defendants did not have the owners’ permission.

Mr Curtis and his company were convicted of waste dumping offences under the NSW Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1998, fined a total of $50,000 and ordered to pay Lismore City Council’s legal costs of $5,403.80.

A Lismore city council spokesperson said any further dumping offences by Mr Curtis or his company in the next five years could result in significantly greater penalties and may include a prison term under NSW pollution laws.

‘The seriousness of illegal dumping cannot be underestimated as a significant risk to the environment and to human health, and the fine imposed development and compliance manager Peter Jeuken said.

‘People also need to be careful in choosing a demolition contractor to use, because not only are transporters liable for illegal waste dumping, but customers who engage or accept waste from illegal waste dumpers can also be liable for fines, clean-up orders and legal costs.’

Mr Jeuken urged anyone with information or who suspects illegal waste dumping activities, to contact the NSW EPA on 131 555.

‘You can also phone your local council in confidence so that incidents can be investigated and appropriate action taken,’ he said.

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