Yeppoon drums update

Issued: 9 July 2020

The Department of Environment and Science (DES) has charged two people with serious environmental offences following the discovery of 13 drums last year at two sites in Farnborough, near Yeppoon.

It is alleged the two individuals obtained the 44-gallon drums of used paint thinner from a Yeppoon-based company, and dumped nine drums into a lagoon near Corio Bay Fish Habitat Reserve Road.

The drums leaked waste paint thinner into the water, causing environmental harm and resulting in the death of marine life. The remaining four drums were dumped in bushland near Iwasaki Road and did not cause environmental harm.

The two individuals are due to appear in the Yeppoon Magistrates Court on August 6 2020, charged with wilfully causing material environmental harm.

The charge carries a maximum penalty of $600,525 or two years in prison. It is alleged the two individuals also obtained a commercial benefit by disposing the drums.

The Yeppoon company, while unaware the drums would be illegally disposed of, had a responsibility to ensure they were disposed of properly. The company has provided almost $30,000 in funding to help remove the drums from the lagoon.

The company has entered into an enforceable undertaking, which requires it to issue a public statement to acknowledge its role in the offending.

The company must also provide almost $15,000 in funding for the removal of the drums from bushland, and contribute $10,000 the Livingstone Shire Council to assist it to combat illegal dumping in the local area.

If the company fails to comply with the enforceable undertaking, DES can take further action.

Companies that conduct activities that could potentially impact the environment have a responsibility to ensure the environment is protected.

This prosecution and enforcement action demonstrates that DES does not tolerate offences against the environment and will hold companies and individuals accountable for the actions that lead directly or indirectly to environmental harm.

Yeppoon drums fast facts:

  • 27 October 2019 – Nine drums dumped into the lagoon near Corio Bay Fish Habitat Reserve Road, Farnborough
  • 29 October 2019 – DES investigation begins after a member of the public found the drums
  • Initial tests revealed hydrocarbons, including xylene and ethybenzene in water, sediment and soil near the drums
  • The hydrocarbon contamination event caused the deaths of mangrove bloodworms, 10 crabs and 50 glassfish
  • 21 January 2020 – Four drums discovered in bushland near Iwasaki Road, Farnborough