A helpless old woman landlord in Melbourne has been slapped with a 1.3-million dollar bill for cleaning up the mess left behind by a recalcitrant tenant - 300 drums of toxic waste.
According to Ms.Ruth Browne's children, Alf Browne and Bev Olbrick, a tenant of her warehouse had violated his EPA licence after piling 50 tonnes of dry cleaning chemical and waste on the premises as against the 1.2 tonnes guideline.
The environmental regulator did not act in time even though it was alerted by the landlord, but it stepped in after the tenant vanished and is insisting that the 82-year-old woman bear the clean-up bill.
Bev added that her distraught mother was ready to face the bars.
"She's prepared to go to jail rather than pay the bill," News.com.au quoted her as saying.
David Davis, opposition spokesman for the environment, has laid the entire blame on the EPA, saying it failed to fulfil its responsibility.
He said: "Because of the EPA's failure to act at an early point, failure to enforce regulations and failure to guarantee that toxic chemicals were not stored in capacities above what was allowed by permits, a landlord is now faced with a very difficult position.
"The landlord here is being told she is responsible, despite her telling the EPA at an early point that they needed to act against a tenant who was breaking the law."
"What is the point of having licences for the storage of toxic waste if the conditions of those licences are not enforced and breaches not prosecuted?"