Numurkah tyre dump owner ordered to pay $2 million in clean-up costs

By Spencer Fowler Steen

The owner of a tyre dump in Numurkah will have to pay nearly $2 million for the cost of removing half-a-million tyres, which posed a catastrophic fire risk to the town.

The Environment Protection Authority reached a settlement in the Supreme Court last week, requiring the owner of the Sidebottom Group to pay nearly $2 million dollars.

The verdict ends a long process involving the Victorian Government spending millions of dollars in legal fees and to remove the tyres, and the jailing of Shanan James Sidebottom over the illegal dumping of tyres.

EPA Victoria executive director Mark Rossiter said the settlement sent a strong signal to business and industry — where the EPA incurs clean-up costs, it will do everything in its power to recover them on behalf of Victorians.

“It also proves illegal activities don’t pay, as it would have been much cheaper to comply with regulations in the first place,” Mr Rossiter said.

The Country Fire Authority, EPA, Moira Shire Council and politicians, including Victorian Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio and State Member for Shepparton Suzanna Sheed, convened almost a year ago to watch the last of the 500 000 tyres removed from the west Numurkah site.

The tyres caught the attention of authorities in 2013, when a fire at the site sparked the beginnings of a legal battle to have the tyres removed.

Mr Rossiter said tyre fires could have many devastating environmental impacts, including decreased air quality, fire-water run-off into local waterways and land contamination.

“During a fire, the tyre product breaks down into hazardous compounds including gases, heavy metals and oil, generating a great deal of smoke,” he said.

The settlement to recoup costs was reached in the Supreme Court on February 12.