Painters fined for pouring paint waste into stormwater system

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has slapped a $1000 fine on painters working at a Dickson development site after they were found to have poured paint waste down a stormwater drain.

Narelle Sargent, from the EPA, said the painters had not followed procedures and good work practices and had emptied a paint wash basin into a stormwater sump within the building site which was directly connected to the stormwater system.

“The paint pollution was discovered during a routine inspection of our stormwater channels,” Mrs Sargent said.

“The EPA officers observed a white substance in the water flowing down an open stormwater channel in Dickson and traced it back to the development.

“Paints are toxic to the environment and can poison fish and other animals in our creeks, lakes and rivers and make our waterways unsafe for recreational use.

“The prevention of pollution on building sites is a key focus for the EPA and industry is on notice,” Mrs Sargent said.

Those in the painting industry – as well as anyone thinking about painting their house - are reminded that no material or wastewater should enter the stormwater system and to:

  • check the location of stormwater drains
  • not store any materials within 10 metres of the stormwater system or in places where it may enter the stormwater system
  • ensure the only thing entering a stormwater drain is rainwater – or risk a fine
  • follow the tips contained in the ‘Preventing Pollution from Painting’ information sheet available on the Access Canberra website or call the EPA on 13 22 81.

The EPA has also warned three northside restaurants and eateries to stop putting kitchen waste in the stormwater drains at the rear of their businesses.

Twenty-five restaurants and eateries in Belconnen, Hawker, O’Connor, Manuka, Kingston, Civic, Braddon and Dickson were inspected as part of ‘Operation Scrap’ after troubling reports of eateries tipping liquids such as cooking oil, detergents, waste water, chemicals and food waste down stormwater drain.

“Contaminants such as waste matter, detergents and chemicals pollute our waterways resulting in dying fish, algae overgrowth, unsafe swimming conditions, and unsightly (and smelly) creeks, lakes, and rivers,” Mrs Sargent said.

The three businesses received a verbal warning as well as information about keeping the environment around their premises clean.

“We expect to see improvements next time we visit or further regulatory activity will be taken,” said Sargent.

On-the-spot-fines of up to $200 for individuals or $1,000 for businesses can apply for acts of stormwater pollution.