Authorities have warned land and property owners about a scam in which thousands of old tyres were illegally dumped at leased properties, leaving one victim with a huge clean-up bill.
The scam involves offenders approaching businesses which have stockpiles of used tyres and offering to dispose of them at far cheaper rates than legitimate tyre recyclers.
They then dump the scrap tyres at properties they have leased, such as storage lockers, vacant land lots and backyards of rented homes.
In one instance, piles of tyres were left at a property in Wungong, in Perth’s south-east, leaving the owner with a $100,000 clean-up bill.
Matt Warnock, senior manager of water operations at the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation, said landlords and property owners were at major risk of being left having to foot the clean-up costs.
“If a property is abandoned with waste [left behind] as in this case, used tyres, then it’s a problem of removing and legally disposing that waste rests with that property owner,” he said.
“Up until recent times, this was quite an unusual event. However, in the course of this investigation, the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation has identified at least 10 places across Perth that have been used in this way.
“In terms of scale, I believe we’re talking in the order of hundreds of thousands of tyres … certainly in Western Australia, this is the largest operation of this type that my investigators have come across … so far this is the most bold operation I’ve seen in this state.”
Businesses urged to scrutinise contractors
Mr Warnock said businesses also needed to ensure they were doing their due diligence.
“Businesses disposing of used tyres have a legal responsibility to ensure that any contractor who transports their used tyres is licensed to do so,” he said.
The department also warned of serious environmental risks if the tyres caught fire or were deliberately lit.
“Extinguishing tyre fire is dangerous and very problematic, it’s a high-risk event for any firefighter and very difficult to contain,” Mr Warnock said.
He said tyres could also collect rainwater, creating breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
The unauthorised transport of a controlled waste and abandonment of waste are offences which carry a maximum penalty of $62,500 for an individual and $125,000 for corporations.
Illegal dumping can be reported to the Department’s Pollution Watch Hotline on 1300 784 782 or online.