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Dumping charge defended

PORT Stephens mayor Bruce MacKenzie’s family company has pleaded not guilty to using Macka’s Sand and Soil at Salt Ash as an unlawful waste dump.

The plea was entered on Friday in the Land and Environment Court after the NSW Environment Protection Authority finalised its case against the company, Grafil Pty Ltd, and directors Mr MacKenzie and son Robert.

The charge, under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act, carries a $1 million maximum penalty with a further penalty of $120,000 for each day the offence continues.

The father and son also face possible special executive liability as directors of Grafil Pty Ltd, trading as Macka’s.

The NSW Environment Protection Authority launched criminal proceedings against Grafil in the Land and Environment Court inMay last yearafter investigations of alleged dumping from 2013,whenstockpiles of waste up to eight metres high, 40 metres wide and 100 metres long were found near and in waterways.

The EPA initiated the Land and Environment Court action after investigations in October, 2015found an additional 360 tonnes of waste at the Salt Ash site, in breach of orders made in 2013, with 10 tonnes found to containasbestos.

A 2013 clean-up notice that was still in place preventedany further waste from being accepted at the Macka’s premises.

The EPA initiated the Land and Environment Court action a day before announcing it hadfined Grafil and Macka’s Sand $15,000 for land pollution by asbestos waste.

It charged the company with using the Salt Ash site as a waste facility without lawful authority.

Inmedia reports in 2016 Cr MacKenzie denied the EPA’s allegation that360 tonnes of demolition waste had been dumped on the site between May 2013 and October 2015.

“We put four or five tonnes of bricks and mortar there and someone else has dumped the asbestos,” he said.

In papers filed in the court the EPA alleged Grafil Pty Ltd used the land as a waste facility between October 29, 2012 and May 15, 2013. It alleged mixed construction and demolition waste and asbestos was deposited at the Salt Ash business site to form three stockpiles.

“The premises was used as a waste facility for storing and/or disposal of waste on the land,” court papers alleged.

The Protection of the Environment Operations Act places the onus of proof in any prosecution on the defendant, Grafil Pty Ltd, to demonstrate it had lawful authority to use the property as a waste facility.

The EPA said Grafil acted promptly to remove asbestos waste after it was detected and tested.

Stockpiles: An Environment Protection Authority photo showing stockpiled material at Macka’s Sand in 2013. The EPA alleges Port Stephens mayor Bruce MacKenzie’s company used the property as an unlawful waste dump.

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