Last Friday, when I was walking my dogs along the waterfront near where I live in Brisbane, I saw a van pull up about 400m in front of me. A guy got out and retrieved this 40L fuel container from the back and start to fill up his tank. I could smell the diesel as he poured it in. But when I looked closer, I couldn’t see the fuel tank hole thingy on the side of the van. Then it started to dawn on me – it looked like he was tipping the fuel straight into a drain, not five metres from the ocean! What the f*@K?!
I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was thinking ‘No way. No one would do that these days. It’s broad daylight! He wouldn’t do that.’ I noted his number plate just in case. Then he put the fuel container back in his car and calmly drove off. As I got closer to the drain, I could start to see the oil slick on the surface of the water, coming out from the pipe that the drain led to into the ocean.
It made me feel sick. I just couldn’t believe that there are still people out there who don’t give a shit about the environment as much as that. Surely there’s enough education out there now that people realise their actions have an impact on the world around them, isn’t there? Even if people don’t care about the environment, isn’t there enough incentive to not want to waste things? That fuel would have cost money in the first place after all. Who knows? All I know is that guy was a dick and what he did was not fair on nature.
I started to wonder what I could do. I had no clean-up materials, and even if I did, the slick was already too far away from the shore line to be able to collect it without a boat. I didn’t even have my phone with me so I couldn’t take photos. I decided that I would try and report him when I got home and I kept repeating his number plate over and over in my head.
When I got home, I looked online and found an online littering reporting system on the Queensland Environment and Heritage Protection website it was really easy to use and I felt a bit better about actually being able to do something about the event (even though it didn’t reduce the environmental harm that had already occurred).
It got me thinking about what anyone can do if they see a similar thing happen. It could be the dumping of any type of waste – plastic, fishing gear, general waste etc. So, if you see someone dumping their waste, but can’t or don’t want to approach them, you should:
- Note the date, time and duration of the incident;
- The type of pollutant or a description of the incident, discharge or emission;
- The location of the incident, being as specific as possible;
- The source and cause of pollution if known;
- The extent or size of the area where the pollution is visible;
- Anything else that is relevant to the incident;
- Take photos if you can; and
- Report the incident to your state environmental department via the website or phone
The following links are to each of the Australian state polluting reporting website pages. (If you live overseas, your state environmental protection agency would probably have something similar.):
New South Wales: http://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/pollution/wastelitter.htm
Northern Territory: http://www.ntepa.nt.gov.au/waste-pollution/compliance/incidents
Australian Capital Territory:
South Australia: http://www.epa.sa.gov.au/our_work/incident_reporting#dumping
Here’s to bringing an end to thoughtless pollution!
Have you seen anyone illegally dumping waste? What did you do?