'Multi-million' dollar lawsuit looms as EPA seize control of Stawell's hazardous rubber stockpile

ACTION REQUIRED: The EPA has stepped in to recycle the massive used tyre stockpile at Stawell and reduce the risk of fire. Picture: Boomerang Alliance

ACTION REQUIRED: The EPA has stepped in to recycle the massive used tyre stockpile at Stawell and reduce the risk of fire. Picture: Boomerang Alliance

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Environment Protection Authority Victoria seized control of Stawell’s notorious rubber stockpile on Wednesday. 

But the government agency has been threatened with a multi-million dollar Supreme Court lawsuit by the previous site owner, who said the EPA and CFA “forced” Used Tyre Recycling Corporation (UTRC) to spend “millions of dollars for no reason”. 

UTRC chief executive Matthew Starr also said they would be suing for “tortious interference in its business operations”.

EPA chief executive Nial Finegan said they stepped in to remove the tyres after no “obvious activity” to recycle the used tyres at the site for an extended period of time.

“It is EPA’s view that the stockpile is being handled in a manner by the owners that is likely to cause an environmental hazard,” he said. 

“We are taking action after repeated failure by the site’s owners to comply with EPA notices and a Country Fire Authority (CFA) Fire Protection Notice issued to reduce the risk of fire at the site to protect the community.

“Every attempt has been made to find a solution within the regulatory parameters available.

“It is only after repeated failure by the owners of the tyre stockpile in Stawell to comply with EPA notices and with a CFA Fire Protection Notice, that has led EPA to take steps to take charge of the site and effect a clean-up.

Mr Starr claimed his company had to deal with significant red tape and “financially unrealistic demands” by the EPA before ownership of the tyre yard switched to Panama company Internet Marketing Solutions Corp on March 30. 

“The EPA was finally forced to transition from a 'no money to clean-up problems - everyone else has to pay for our problems' to 'an unlimited open check book' to get things done within just two weeks,” he said. 

“Unfortunately, the EPA and CFA have deliberately destroyed the land that UTRC has a licence over, meaning that it is impossible for UTRC's globally acclaimed and patented Used Tyre Pyrolysis plant to be built in Stawell,” Mr Starr said this week.