Headaches, sore throats: Waste company in crack down
THE State Government will issue waste company Cleanaway with an Environmental Protection Order after a fire broke out at its Ipswich landfill site yesterday afternoon.
Large clouds of dark smoke billowed through parts of the city, forcing many residents to close up their houses, with some reporting they were suffering headaches, sore throats or struggling to breath as a result.
Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said a fire in a waste facility, particularly one so close to residential areas, is "completely unacceptable."
"The community's expectation is that the waste and recycling industry manage their facilities in a way that significantly minimises the risk of fire, by putting in place diligent practices and procedures," she said.
"As the environmental regulator, the Department of Environment and Science has been on site today and will continue to investigate the incident.
"However, the department has advised Cleanaway that it intends to issue an Environmental Protection Order today in relation to the fire last night."
The details of this particular EPO are still being worked through so what it means for Cleanaway is not yet known.
An EPO is a written statutory tool issued by the department to a person or company to take actions to remedy a risk or prevent further harm.
It can force a party to stop a certain activity indefinitely or for a certain period of time.
A Cleanaway spokesman said the cause of the fire is under investigation.
"The fire start at approximately 4pm yesterday and was under control by 5pm," he said.
"The fire was completely extinguished by 9pm.
"There is no overfilling at the site.
"Additional measures for the site will include installing security cameras and investigating installing a thermal imaging camera to identify hot spot areas.
"This is a timely reminder for people to make sure they don't dispose of dangerous materials in general waste or recycling that can cause fires such as batteries, boat flares and ammunition."
Bundamba MP Lance McCallum said he drove to Collingwood Park to witness the fire after smelling the smoke from his home last night.
"(I) immediately called for the state environmental regulators to contact Cleanaway last night," he said.
"I understand and share the concerns of the community around these fires.
"It's unacceptable for waste companies to be endangering the community and frontline responders like our firefighters who are called to respond.
"Waste companies that are disregarding their regulations should face harsher penalties and I'm going to be pushing for much tougher action going forward."