When the Environment Protection Act 2018 comes into effect in July 2021 the EPA will be able to issue stronger santions and penalties to make polluters and potential polluters pay with fines up to $3.2m and jail time for deliberate breaches.
The centrepiece of these new laws is the general environmental duty (GED). It is a powerful demonstration of how human safety and environmental safety are becoming more entwined as the occupational health and safety law (OHS) is the template for building the GED.
The GED is the legal obligation that applies to all citizens. It requires that you must be aware of the risks your activites could pose to environmetal and human health and take all reasonable steps to eliminate or minimise the negetive outcomes.
In an Australian first The Environment Protection Act 2018 makes the GED criminally enforcable in Victoria.
The new sanctions available to the EPA include civil penalties as an alternative to criminal prosecution. Monetary benefit orders allow any profit made from breaching environmental laws to be stripped away from the offender.
Another available sanction is restorative project orders that will require a business to carry out a project to restore or enhance the environment. The EPA can also require a business to set aside a certain amount of money to cover remediation or clean up costs.
An important addition to the Act empowers citizens through third party rights. This allows individuals to make direct application to the courts if it is believed that the EPA has not acted where it should have in a reasonable amount of time.
Spill Station Australia have been helping Australian businesses meet their environment, health and safety obligations since 1983 with our range of products, training and aftersales service. Contact our team to attend your site to identify any gaps in your current spill response and control systems and assist in making you ready for the new laws.