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Effluent plan still in the bog

STUCK: Livestock transporters are caught between a lack of facilities and potential fines. INSET: Big Rigs covered the issue earlier this year.
STUCK: Livestock transporters are caught between a lack of facilities and potential fines. INSET: Big Rigs covered the issue earlier this year. Kirstin Payne

THE situation is crappy, livestock transporters have nowhere to dump effluent and the legalities behind the situations have not been resolved, leaving drivers susceptible to fines for unrestrained loads.

It has been over six months since Big Rigs first highlighted the effluent issue, despite commitments to resolve resolve the problem livestock transporters continue to run the risk of penalties of up to $550 for effluent spillage, currently classed as an unrestrained load.

A requirement that will continue under the amended Chain of Responsibility according to an NHVR spokesperson.

$550 is a high price to pay when drivers have limited dumping options.

Executive Director of the Australian Livestock Rural Transport Association Mathew Munroe has taken this issue right to the seat of rural power, lobbying regional representatives at the recent Nationals conference in Canberra.

"When effluent or any other material is dislodged from a heavy vehicle it is treated as a load restrain offence - depending on the level of how the fine is issued it can be $550 it can be more,” Mr Munroe said.

"The problem we face is that drivers are doing the right thing by containing the effluent in the tank - which accumulates 300 litres or so of material but have no where to dump it.

"I have been talking to operators that feel like criminals, driving around on the roads trying to find a place to deposit the material, when there just isn't anywhere available.

"If they dump it in a sensitive area, the fine under EPA could even reach up to $8000.

"It needs a whole of supply chain solution and we need facilities in hotspots so we thought it was a good opportunity to go speak to some of the federal members, particularly from northern NSW and Southern Queensland about a plan we are proposing.”

While a number of the federal members were receptive, Mr Munroe said many weren't aware of the situation.

The ALRTA hopes to secure government funding for effluent dumping facilities similar to those established in New Zealand.

"They have program to put management facilities in the from of a slip road and grid, with parking facilities to drain into holding tanks,” he said.

"It is quick and simple and free for drivers to use to keep the road clean.”

Spokesperson for the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development however said the issues requires a multi-faceted approach.

"The National Transport Commission, together with industry groups and the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator, is undertaking consultation on proposals to more explicitly recognise the role of animal preparation in the supply chain, under the Heavy Vehicle National Law HVNL,” the spokesperson said.

"The aim is to find ways to better ensure farmers, prepares and drivers understand their role in ensuring safe livestock transport.”

Unfortunately for drivers, there is only so much preparation that can be done, with a clear need for facilitates to be put in place when travelling long distances.

Until such a time it seems the powers that be will also continue to prosecute.

"The release or spillage of effluent creates a safety risk on roads, and therefore all parties in the chain of responsibility (not just transport operators) will continue to have a duty to manage the risk,” an NHVR spokesperson said.

The NTC is still undertaking the review and update of the Load Restraint Guide on the matter, which could also hold graziers to account.

"We understand they are have been considering load restraint issues as part of their review of the Load Restraint Guide,” the spokesperson said.  

"As outlined above though, effluent spillage creates a safety risk and the new CoR duty means that a system that addresses that risk be installed.”

No NHVR data is available on the number of fines issued for effluent restraint fines.

Topics:  effluent livestock

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