From July 1, 2021 Victorian businesses and industry will be subject to new pollution management laws. As part of this the EPA will have increased powers to prevent harm to public health and the environment. So how will these changes impact your business, and are you ready?
The biggest change in the new EPA laws is a shift from consequence-based to prevention-based management of pollution. The previous act emphasised rectifying environmental pollution after it had occurred, whereas the new act centres around a General Environmental Duty (GED). This states that businesses are responsible for protecting the environment and human health. It reads that “A person who is engaging in an activity that may give rise to risks of harm to human health or the environment from pollution or waste must minimise those risks, so far as reasonably practicable”. Essentially, any businesses that conduct activities that pose a risk to people and the environment must understand those risks and eliminate or minimise them where possible.
This means that businesses must put in proportionate controls to mitigate or minimise the risk of harm. Controls that eliminate the hazard or source of the risk are most effective, followed by engineering or building controls, and then training or site practices. A combination of all these controls may be required for maximum effectiveness. The diagram below illustrates this concept using oil storage as an example.
Common risks that businesses need to manage include:
In an Australian-first, the GED is criminally enforceable. Offending businesses risk civil penalties, paying back profits, environment restorative work and clean up. The good news is that for businesses that are already managing their environmental risks, the GED should mean little to no change to how they operate.
Will your business be compliant when the new legislation takes effect? If you’re unsure or would like a second opinion, Stratex is offering free environmental site assessments for drain protection, storage and bunding. To make a booking contact us on 1300 991 180 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about these changes visit www.epa.vic.gov.au/.
Source: EPA Victoria