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Australia’s Tasmania Dairy Giant Probed Over Waste Process

The local environment watchdog is keen to meet owners of Van Dairy over effluent management issues.

SMITHTON, Australia — Australia’s largest dairy company is being investigated by the Tasmanian environment watchdog over effluent management issues.

The island state’s Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is keen to meet with the owner of Van Dairy Limited concerning nine farms in the northwest.

A recent audit from the Tasmanian Dairy Industry Authority raised concerns with effluent management at Van Dairy farms.

The Circular Head Council has issued nine environmental protection notices under section 44 of the Environmental Management Pollution Control Act (EPMCA) 1994 to Van Dairy concerning improvements in dairy effluent management.

Environmental Pollution Management Control Act aims to prevent environmental harm from pollution and waste. It is a performance-based style of legislation, with the fundamental basis being the prevention, reduction, and remediation of environmental damage.

The council has referred the notices to the Environmental Protection Act to assess the level of compliance, with Wes Ford, director, now seeking a meeting with Van Dairy’s owners.

“The management of dairy effluent impacts beyond the boundary of a farm is normally a matter for a council. However, the EPA can involve itself where there are significant allegations of environmental harm,” Ford said in a statement.

“I trust that Van Dairy Limited is committed to investing in the appropriate infrastructure and management systems to ensure the dairy effluent is managed in an appropriate and contemporary manner, both in the short and longer-term, and I will be engaging with the company on this basis.”

Chinese company Moon Lake Investments was in 2018 given the green light by the foreign investment review board to buy Tasmania’s Van Diemen’s Land Company in an AUD 280 million ($217.03) acquisition.

The company, later renamed Van Dairy, owns 27 farms in Tasmania’s northwest.

In a statement released last week, Van Dairy claimed there had been an issue with effluent ponds overflowing and pumps on several farms.

“(Van Dairy) is undertaking repairs to the effluent ponds and pumping systems identified in council notices,” the company said. “This remedial action is monitored closely by council officers, and the company provides the council with regular updates on this remedial work to comply with those notices.

“Most of the urgent repair work will be completed within the next two weeks. More intensive works that will provide a permanent solution will be completed by the end of April 2021.”

Van Dairy recently had an operation license for one farm suspended due to an overflowing effluent pond. The license has since been reinstated.

(Edited by Vaibhav Vishwanath Pawar and Pallavi Mehra. Map by Urvashi Makwana)

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