7-Eleven fined for hydrocarbon offence

Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Victoria says it has fined 7-Eleven Stores Pty Ltd more than $7,700 for failing to remove, in a timely manner, hydrocarbons from groundwater beneath premises at Newport in Melbourne.

EPA Metropolitan Region Manager Daniel Hunt says EPA officers discovered the fuel residues at the Melbourne Road site following a report to EPA’s ‘pollution hotline’.

“An EPA investigation found what has been analysed and appears to be weathered petrol, in groundwater at and in the immediate vicinity of the premises,” he said.

“During the investigation in February 2017 it was disappointing to uncover that 7-Eleven had known about the hydrocarbon issue at the site since it received a report in 2015, yet had failed to undertake any form of clean-up.”

Mr Hunt says the EPA will issue the company with a notice that requires it to determine the extent of hydrocarbon contamination at and beyond the boundary of its premises, and test underground fuel tanks and equipment for any leaks.

“The notice also has a requirement for the company to provide EPA with an approved interim clean-up plan completed by an EPA-appointed environmental auditor,” he said.

The EPA issued a statement regarding the fine on June 1, but 7-Eleven has described this statement as “pre-emptive” given that the company received a notice of infringement just a week before and has until July to respond.

“We have already shared information with the EPA that shows the issue is not as clear-cut as it has alleged, and we are seeking further advice in relation to the matter,” 7-Eleven said. “Recent testing suggests there could be other causal factors than what the EPA has alleged.

“The EPA’s claim that we have failed to act upon the issue since first detected is incorrect. In 2015, 7-Eleven detected some levels of contamination but which did not warrant active remediation. 7-Eleven instituted monitoring at the site, and subsequent testing in late 2016 revealed that the levels of hydrocarbons were rising. Upon receipt of this report, we instructed our consultants to investigate further and to take appropriate remedial action, which is still in process.

“7-Eleven is disappointed by the EPA’s pre-emptive statement before the proper processes have been fully worked through.”

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