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Australian Man Fined $74,600 For New South Wales Land Pollution

A Sydney man who dumped around 21,000 tonnes of waste on the Hawkesbury River has pleaded guilty and been fined $74,600.

SYDNEY — A Sydney man has been fined AU$100,000 ($74,600) for dumping about 21,000 tonnes of concrete, car parts, timber, plastic, and asbestos on the banks of the Hawkesbury River.

Sam Abbas pleaded guilty to three environmental offenses at a property near the small Central Coast town of Spencer.

The New South Wales Environment Protection Authority charged the father-of-five with land pollution, unlawfully transporting waste and using the property as a waste facility between February 2015 and May 2016. The New South Wales Environment Protection Authority was established as an independent governing Board in February 2012 separate from the Office of Environment and Heritage.

Abbas said in his affidavit that he noticed a “large amount of waste material” on the property when it was purchased by his sister.

Map of Spencer Australia

He thought the fill material he bought to cover the waste and make the property more level was “clean” and made of clay, shale and dirt. Abbas claimed when he realized some of it contained “demolition material” he directed it to be covered up, “in the belief that such coverage would bury the material and ensure it did not enter the river”.

He said he did not know the material deposited on the property could cause environmental harm until he read a report from the illegal dump squad.

“In hindsight, I should have been diligent and ensured that all fill placed on the property was clean,” he said.

“I am deeply regretful that my actions have led to this result and without reservation apologize to both the court and the community for my actions and those who brought the material to the property at my request.”

On top of the fine, the Land and Environment Court has ordered he pay the investigation costs of AU$80,000 ($59,680) and its legal costs. Abbas has also been issued with a clean-up notice which requires him to take steps to remediate the property to remove the risk of ongoing harm to the environment.

The Land and Environment Court has fined Sam Abbas AU$100,000 ($74,600) and also ordered he pay the investigation costs of AU$80,000 ($59,680) and its legal costs. (Tingey Injury Law Firm/Unsplash)

Justice Nicola Pain ruled while the court was not satisfied there was significant water pollution caused by the dumping, the harm to vegetation was “significant”.

“The court was satisfied that Abbas’s intention of committing the offenses was to improve the property and to cover the waste placed on the property by others albeit this was very poorly executed from an environmental perspective,” Pain said in her judgment.

The Land and Environment Court of New South Wales is a court within the Australian court hierarchy established pursuant to the Land and Environment Court Act 1979 to hear environmental, development, building and planning disputes.

(Edited by Vaibhav Pawar and Ritaban Misra. Map by Urvashi Makwana)

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