Media release

Audit finds serious problems with air pollution monitoring in Victoria

March 08, 2018

The Victorian Auditor-General’s report on air quality, which highlights serious deficiencies with monitoring and the Environment Protection Agency’s reliance on industry to self-report pollution incidents, must prompt government action, Environmental Justice Australia said.

The Auditor-General’s report, Improving Victoria’s air quality, was tabled in state parliament today.

Among other things the Auditor-General’s report finds:

  • The EPA has failed to monitor air pollution in most of Victoria, including much of metropolitan Melbourne, and therefore cannot accurately assess pollution levels in most of the state.
  • Pollution monitoring equipment is in the wrong places, is aging and no longer supported.
  • The EPA has not conducted a state-wide inventory of pollution sources since 2006 and therefore does not have reliable information on which to base decisions.
  • Pollution levels the EPA knows are incorrect are presented on its website as correct.
  • The EPA’s reliance on industry to self-report pollution incidents and licence breaches is inadequate, as polluters generally have weak monitoring processes or under-report breaches.
  • The EPA’s pollution licences for major emitters are too generic, with pollution limits based on the limitations of current technology, rather than on what is acceptable for the environment.
  • The EPA’s assessments of air pollution do not always accurately reflect whether Victoria is meeting national standards.

“Today’s Auditor-General’s report reflects some of our long held concerns about the way the EPA monitors and manages air pollution in Victoria,” said EJA lawyer Nicola Rivers.

“Given today’s findings it is very hard to have confidence in the EPA when it says everything is fine on air pollution.

“While the Auditor-General’s audit gives a very useful assessment of some of the glaring flaws in the way the EPA does business, it does not address one of the root problems with air pollution management in Australia – the complete inadequacy of our national pollution standards and the tortuous process all nine governments must go through to improve them.

“As well as significant improvements in how the EPA monitors and regulates air pollution, a new Federal legal framework for national air pollution standards is desperately needed via a new generation of federal environment laws,” she said.

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