Pollution Offences

Under the Environment Protection Act 1993 (SA), penalties for breaches of pollution and waste laws are severe. Undertaking a prescribed activity of environmental significance without a valid EPA licence or breaching a condition of a licence carries a maximum fine of $60 000 for a person or $120 000 for a body corporate [ss 35 and 36].

Where a person pollutes the environment (noise, air, water, waste) the penalty will depend on a variety of factors. A person who intentionally or recklessly causes (knowing that it will or may cause) serious environmental harm, may be fined up to $500 000 or jailed for four years (or both). A body corporate may be fined up to $2 000 000. Where there is no intention or recklessness, the maximum fine for a person is $250 000 and for a body corporate, $500 000 [see Environment Protection Act 1993 (SA) s 79]. Serious environmental harm occurs if:

  • the actual or potential harm to health and safety of people is, or is potentially, of a high impact or on a wide scale;
  • environmental harm is, or is potentially, of a high impact or on a wide scale;
  • actual or potential damage exceeds $50 000.

A person who intentionally or recklessly causes (knowing that it will or may cause) material environmental harm may be fined up to $250 000 or be jailed for two years (or both) while a body corporate may be fined up to $500 000. If material damage is caused and there was no intention, a person may be fined up to $150 000 and a body corporate $250 000 [see Environment Protection Act 1993 (SA) s 80]. Material environmental harm occurs if:

  • actual or potential harm is caused to the health and safety of people;
  • environmental nuisance is, or is potentially, of a high impact or on a wide scale;
  • environmental harm (that is not trivial) is, or is potentially, caused;
  • actual or potential damage exceeds $5 000.

People who intentionally pollute the environment or recklessly cause an environmental nuisance may be fined up to $30 000 [Environment Protection Act 1993 (SA) s 82]. An environmental nuisance includes:

  • any adverse effect on an amenity value of an area that is caused by smoke, noise, dust, fumes or odour that unreasonably interferes with the enjoyment of the area by other people;
  • any unsightly or offensive condition caused by waste.

This may include many common problems experienced by people in residential areas. Where a body corporate commits an offence, any officer of the body corporate who did not take all reasonable and practical prevention measures will be guilty of an offence and may receive the same fine as would be received by a person committing the offence, although they will not face imprisonment. The officer may be prosecuted even if the body corporate is not [see Environment Protection Act 1993 (SA) s 129].

Pollution Offences  :  Last Revised: Fri Feb 22nd 2013
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