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Construction company fined $40k after risking Aussie community: 'Not acceptable'

Investigators feared dust, noise and water pollution could have been putting the community at risk.

How would you feel if a construction business in your city was secretly stockpiling waste despite being ordered to stop?

When Queensland authorities discovered an Ipswich company was illegally accepting piles of concrete rubble, they decided to take action to protect the community. Investigators were concerned about dust wafting from the site, stormwater contamination and of course the noise from dumping and smashing the concrete.

In 2020 the Department of Environment and Science (DES) became concerned the operation did not have the correct permits and ordered the activity to stop. A subsequent investigation found out they had not stopped. Now, almost two years after the concrete stockpiling operation was discovered, a court has dealt the company a $40,000 fine.

Inset - hands holding a small camera with a dump truck in front of the person. Main image - a dump truck dropping concrete waste.
Inspectors donned body cameras to film the illegal activities at the construction company's site. Source: DES

How was the company busted?

Between July and December 2020, the operator accepted, processed and stockpiled masses of concrete waste. It was doing so without environmental approval, meaning authorities had no way to ensure the business was complying with regulations to prevent environmental harm.

Despite the DES issuing a direction notice telling it to cease its activities, deliveries to the site continued.

That was proven in December, 2020 when inspectors strapped on body cameras and aimed them at the yard. Video supplied by the DES shows two trucks on the premises with their beds filled with concrete waste. You can watch it below.

“This level of brazen offending is not acceptable to us or to the community,” was how the DES responded to the situation.

“The approvals required by operators to carry out such activities are in place for a good reason — to manage the potential risk of harm to both the environment and surrounding communities.”

Was it only a $40,000 fine?

Early this year, a summary trial found the company guilty of carrying out an environmentally relevant activity without an environmental authority, as well as wilfully contravening a direction notice.

On July 27, it was ordered to pay a $40,000 fine along with $5,900 in legal and investigation costs. It will also be required to pay a monetary benefit order of $1,720 to cover the fees that it avoided during its illegal operations.

“This fine serves as a strong reminder to operators that we will not back down from taking action to combat illegal activities that pose a risk to our environment,” the DES said.

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