Illegal waste allegedly dumped on proposed Darwin water park site


May 22, 2019 06:51:47

Thousands of cubic metres of construction waste was illegally buried on Darwin harbour’s foreshore, including some which was allegedly dumped on neighbouring government land — the proposed site of the water theme park — the Northern Territory’s Environmental Protection Authority (NTEPA) has claimed.

Key points:

  • The NT EPA lays charges against DWD Project and director Michael Anthony for “intentionally polluting the environment causing serious environmental harm”
  • If proven, this could cost the company millions in penalties
  • Mr Anthony denies wrongdoing and says he will contest the charges, as well as withdrawing his $130 million proposal for a hotel and water theme park

The NTEPA laid charges of intentionally polluting the environment causing serious environmental harm against company DWD Project Pty Ltd and its company director, Darwin businessman Michael Anthony, after a year-long investigation.

Mr Anthony also revealed to the ABC that he was one of seven developers who had submitted expressions of interest to the NT Government to build the water park.

He said he would withdraw his $130 million proposal to develop the water park as a result of the NTEPA’s charges.

Alleged dumping altered shoreline

In a statement, the EPA alleged that DWD and Mr Anthony spread and buried several thousand cubic metres of construction waste and building waste onto a DWD-owned property on Mavie Street, as well as the Crown land next door, between May 2016 and April 2018.

“The disposal and burial of these wastes raised the levels of the land, covered foreshore habitat, and filled a large area of Darwin Harbour with wastes and contaminants,” the NTEPA said in a statement.

If found guilty, Mr Anthony could be liable for hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and up to five years’ imprisonment.

The company DWD Project could also be facing a maximum financial penalty of almost $3 million.

A pollution abatement notice was issued in October last year concerning the same alleged breach.

Satellite images published by the NTEPA as part of last year’s abatement notice show that the alleged dumping altered the shoreline of the property, and that “significant land reclamation had occurred as a result of the deposition of waste and contaminants”.

It was alerted by a public report to the NTEPA hotline in April last year.

The NTEPA said the waste remains in place.

Alleged dumper also submitted EOI for water park

The Mavie Street property is neighboured by the old Navy fuel tank site, which is also the NT Government’s favoured site for its proposed water theme park.

The NTEPA confirmed that the alleged activity relating to the charges included the dumping of waste material on a part of that proposed site.

The NT Government nominated the Stokes Hill Wharf area as the favoured site for the park, even though the site was found to have been contaminated by PFAS.

The Government previously said the preferred developer for the theme park would be selected by “early 2019”, and received seven expressions of interest last year.

Mr Anthony told the ABC he had submitted an expression of interest for the proposed theme park site, which he would withdraw as a result of the charges laid against him.

He said his was the “leading proposal” and included a $130 million plan for a hotel and water theme park.

Not pollution but ‘recycling’: Anthony

Mr Anthony strongly denied the charges and said he would contest them in court.

He is also the developer and owner of Darwin’s Zen Hotel, and said that the charges were an overreaction by the NTEPA.

“As of today, there’s been no concrete evidence of this pollution or environmental hazard,” he said.

“The alleged pollution is in fact part of another program of recycling; all the debris that has gone in there is recycled concrete from building sites.”

He said he believed he had been targeted by the NTEPA because of his high profile as a Darwin business identity.

The matter is scheduled for a hearing in Darwin local court next week.

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