The illegal dumping of construction waste is not new, but authorities are beginning to fight back on behalf of residents and the environment, stopping vehicles in their tracks when they suspect the drivers are about to dispose of construction and building materials improperly.

Recently, ‘Operation White Squid’ was launched to crack down on illegal dumping in the Murrumbateman and Yass Valley area. The crackdown – an initiative of the New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory Environment Protection Authority officers, along with NSW Police and Yass Valley Council officers – stopped numerous trucks on the Barton Highway, near the NSW/ACT border. A number of vehicles suspected of being en route to an illegal dumpsite were stopped and turned back, while others were pulled over for traffic and safety violations.

Although Operation White Squid is new, residents have faced the illegal dumping for years, a costly and dangerous eyesore. Until now, Yass Valley Council has paid for the clean-up, and came to an agreement with ACT Territory and Municipal Services (TAMS) to clean up waste along the Parkwood Road dumping area. Much of the construction waste has been fill from Canberra demolition sites, broken chunks of concrete, along with non-construction junk such as old televisions, mattresses, and household waste.

The agreement by authorities to deal with the waste has been months in coming, yet signifies a positive, coordinated effort between bodies on cross-border issues. With considerable recent expansion, residents living along Parkwood Road petitioned Council last year to demand something be done about the waste being dumped – in some cases – literally in their back yards. One long-time resident remembers the illegal dumping going back to the 1980s when she moved in to the area, and said the situation had worsened recently because of increased construction and the switch to digital signals, which has seen some discard their old analog TV sets by the side of the road.

A large part of the reason for dumping waste construction materials, said one representative from the Environment Protection Authority, was cost. Fees for legitimate disposal can be around $150 a tonne, and with some trucks able to haul 20 to 30 tonnes, waste fees can average $3000 to $4500 per load. “You add it up, and it’s quite a financial incentive for people to do the wrong thing,” said the EPA rep of unscrupulous companies looking for an illegal way to avoid hefty disposal fees

In addition to costing communities tens of millions of dollars each year in clean-up costs, illegal dumping creates hazards, is an eyesore, and undermines efforts by legitimate waste disposal companies. Illegal waste dumping carries fines of up to $5 million and up to seven years imprisonment.

Home Automation

Call it ‘domotics,’ and you are likely to receive a blank stare, but refer to it as ‘smart home’ or ‘home automation,’ and you will get a nod of acknowledgement. For the past few years, consumers have heard the word ‘smart’ attached to countless products and services, from food and drink to snacks like popcorn and mobile phones, which no one seems to refer to as a ‘cellphone’ anymore. Yet what, exactly, constitutes ‘smart’?

July 16, 2020, 11:14 AM AEST