The Northern Territory Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has concluded its investigation into the circumstances that led to a waste tyre bale wall fire at the Katherine Showgrounds on 1 July 2019.
The investigation found that Katherine Town Council was not licensed to store or dispose of waste tyres at the site and had potentially committed a number of offences under the Waste Management and Pollution Control Act 1998.
Katherine Town Council has now entered into a performance agreement with the NT EPA under section 66 of the Waste Management and Pollution Control Act 1998 as the preferred compliance and enforcement action in relation to this matter.
The performance agreement requires Katherine Town Council to:
- purchase, install and operate an ongoing ambient air quality monitoring station (AQMS) to measure particulates (smoke) and associated parameters in the Katherine region
- develop a waste management strategy for the Katherine region under control of the Council that will outline clear actions, timelines and budget to address a range of waste management matters and challenges and
- implement the actions identified in the waste management strategy in a timely manner and report measurements of improvement against defined key performance objectives and action items.
NT EPA Chairperson Dr Paul Vogel said the implementation of the performance agreement rather than pursuing a prosecution would provide long term benefits for Katherine’s residents.
"Katherine Town Council engaged with us openly and immediately about this matter," Dr Vogel said.
"Katherine Town Council has already spent considerable sums of money and will need to spend more to continue the clean-up from the waste tyre fire.
"Pursuing a prosecution through the courts would have diverted resources away from the Katherine area where they are needed and potentially unfairly penalise ratepayers through considerable fines and legal fees.
"A prosecution would not have achieved what this agreement does which is a very positive and long term outcome for the Katherine community.
"Katherine Town Council's commitments under the agreement will put Katherine at the forefront in waste planning and management in the NT.
"The tyre fire incident and NT EPA's response reinforces the need for all councils to ensure that waste is effectively managed.
"The air quality monitoring station will for the first time provide Katherine residents with real time data about the quality of the Katherine air environment during the fire season, as well as an increased understanding of any potential impacts to Katherine residents.
"This outcome commits Katherine Town Council to making significant and ongoing improvements to its environmental performance as well as delivering environmental and health benefits for the community."
Go to performance agreements page for more information.