Facebook comments help spark $200k in fines over illegal act

Nick Whigham
·Assistant News Editor
·2-min read

Environmental authorities in Queensland have thanked Facebook users after comments on social media helped uncover illegal waste dumping in the state.

More than $200,000 in fines have been issued in recent months in relation to the unauthorised dumping of materials.

"Since November 2020, the Unlicensed Waste Team has conducted 39 site visits to waste operators and waste tyre handlers who were believed to be operating outside the law," the Queensland Environment Department said.

"A number of these were initially brought to our attention through your reports here in our Facebook comments – thank you for assisting us to identify operators doing the wrong thing," the department posted on Facebook Wednesday.

Sharing a photo of a site filled with the illegal dumping of e-waste, electrical appliances and other junk in Maryborough, the department revealed the mammoth task often required to clean up the mess.

Waste in Maryborough before (top) and after (bottom) it was cleaned up.
Before (top) and after (bottom) authorities visited a site with unlicensed waste in Maryborough. Source: Queensland Environment Department

Authorities have issued 29 penalty infringement notices with fines totalling more than $200,000, it said.

"Unlicensed waste activities that have not been assessed or licensed by the department can pose great risks to the environment and local communities.

"For example, illegal tyre stockpiles can result in waste fires that can pollute our air, land and water and pose a threat to people’s health."

Illegal dumping increases fire risk

The City of Latrobe council in eastern Victoria has previously warned illegal dumping can increase the risk of bushfires, particularly the illegal dumping of cars which are often set alight.

"In a lot of cases [cars] are set alight upon dumping. This is a huge risk to both forestry land and surrounding property, particularly in warmer weather,” Latrobe City Council CEO Steven Piasente warned.

For those in Queensland who think they have witnessed any suspicious waste activities in their community which may be illegal, they are urged to report it by contacting the Pollution Hotline on 1300 130 372.

Each state and territory has its own hotline to report pollution and illegal dumping, handled by the Environmental Protection Agency or environmental department.

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