Hazardous chemicals dumped near Wyndham

Hazmat operations underway after drums containing toxic waste were found at the base of Mount Darragh outside of Wyndham. Photo: NSW Fire and Rescue

Hazmat operations underway after drums containing toxic waste were found at the base of Mount Darragh outside of Wyndham. Photo: NSW Fire and Rescue

A two-day operation saw around 1000litres of illegally-dumped hazardous waste safely removed from bush land, eight kilometres north west of Wyndham last week.

On Thursday, October 17 a concerned passer-by alerted Bega Valley Shire Council to the scene of five 200litre gallon drums containing hazardous waste that were laying in a steep ravine at the foot of Mount Darragh.

NSW Fire and Rescue Eden spokesperson Zlatko Nemec said the Hazmat team were called to the scene by BVSC at 11am on Thursday morning.

A lengthy operation followed including strategic planning and a large capacity crane being called in to carefully retrieve the potentially dangerous toxic waste, which lay out of reach from the Mount Darragh roadside.

"The safest way to remove the drums was to lift them out of the bush avoiding the risk of rupture," Mr Nemec said.

Once retrieved on Friday afternoon, the drums were transported under NSW Fire and Rescue escort to a Bega Valley Shire containment area.

Mr Nemec said it was fortunate the drums were found in time, avoiding a potential larger scale environmental disaster.

"We were lucky there were no leaks or ruptures," he said.

"The contents could have leaked into waterways and with the event of rain the environmental costs could have been extensive.

A crane lifts one of the drums out of bushland. Photo: NSW Fire and Rescue

A crane lifts one of the drums out of bushland. Photo: NSW Fire and Rescue

"Not to mention the cost of services; if the drums burst we could have been there for at least another week and a half."

A spokesperson for the Environment Protection Authority said penalties for anyone caught dumping chemicals came with hefty fines and imprisonment.

The maximum penalty for an individual is $1,000,000 and or a seven-year prison sentence for willful offences.

For negligent offences there is a penalty of $500,000 and/or a four-year prison sentence.

The maximum penalty for co-operating in willfully disposing of waste causing actual or likely harm to the environment is $5,000,000.

Photo: NSW Fire and Rescue

Photo: NSW Fire and Rescue

Bega Valley Shire Council confirmed the specific contents of the drums have not been conclusively determined and the matter is under investigation.

Anyone with information surrounding this serious incident of illegal dumping is requested to contact council on 6499 2222 or council@begavalley.nsw.gov.au.

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