Crackdown: Multiple breaches found at berry farms
BLUEBERRY farmers on the Coffs Coast were subjected to a crackdown by the Environmental Protection Authority this month, with officers discovering multiple breaches.
EPA officers and council staff inspected a number of farms in the Woolgoolga and Sandy Beach areas, prompting a reminder to farmers to comply with best management farming practices.
In particular, officers found multiple breaches in relation to storage and disposal of pesticide and chemical containers at a Sandy Beach blueberry farm.
The EPA issued a Clean-up Notice to the property owner, requiring them to dispose of waste drums in accordance with the law and provide evidence when the work is completed.
EPA Manager Regional Operations North Coast, Brett Nudd, said the property owner was in breach of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act and the Pesticides Act.
"Officers found pesticide and chemical containers which were littered across the property with some containers unlabelled, others partially filled with liquid and some containers left open," Mr Nudd said.
"The EPA reasonably suspects that the property owner is storing the pesticide and chemical containers in a manner that poses a risk of pollution to waters in breach of the POEO Act."
A farm on Newmans Rd was also inspected after a number of public complaints about the burning of plastics and waste materials.
Officers found evidence of melted plastics on the ground and a large pile of partially burnt materials including plastics, tyres, plastic strips, plastic sheeting, plastic pipes, white goods and a trailer.
Coffs Harbour City Council's Section Leader of Compliance and Regulatory Enforcement, Robert Percival, said the burning was an offence under the Protection of Environment (Clean Air) Regulation.
The council issued a Penalty Notice and a Clean-up Notice to the property owner to remove the waste from the affected site.
"Together with the EPA we are reminding farmers about the importance of managing their farming operations in an appropriate manner," Mr Percival said.
"Failure to appropriately manage waste from farming operations can result in substantial financial penalties to property owners or individuals," he said.