The Victorian government plans to hire more than 70 officers to join the Environment Protection Authority’s waste crime unit.
The Waste Crime Prevention Inspectorate — which was established in February — will gain forensic accountants to tackle illegal phoenix activity, as well as surveillance officers, intelligence analysts and more environmental protection officers, the government announced on Friday.
Environment minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the officers would target activities like illegal waste dumping, the unsafe storage and transport of waste, and landfill levy fraud, and would “hold waste criminals to account”.
“The Waste Crime Prevention Inspectorate will have forensic accountants and intelligence analysts, who will work hard to keep Victorians safe and the environment protected,” she said.
The Inspectorate will work with Victoria Police, WorkSafe Victoria, emergency services agencies, local government and other regulators to “improve and streamline” intelligence sharing to prevent waste crime in the state.
As part of the state’s 10-year plan to overhaul the recycling sector, $71.4 million is being invested to better detect, prevent, investigate and prosecute waste crime, such as illegal dumping and stockpiling.
D’Ambrosio also announced an additional $11.5 million for new infrastructure to safely process high-risk and hazardous waste. She noted the state recently introduced an electronic waste tracking system, and began using drones to “detect illegal activity”.
Read more: Victoria sets up body to target waste crime
The lawyers of Melbourne storage company David Barry Logistics recently wrote to the EPA after the regulator ordered the company to clean up a stockpile of toxic industrial waste. The company argued it had agreed to take the mislabelled waste from another organisation “under false pretences”.
Cleaning up the waste would cost the company more than $1 million if the state government does not intervene, according to The Age.