EPA says Ingham knew of standards

INGHAM'S main reason for sacking a third of its staff at its Byron Bay factory has been refuted by a former employee and the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), who claim compliance with environmental standards is not a new issue.

Last week, Ingham announced 70-80 jobs would be lost at the Ewingsdale Rd plant and outlined compliance with the EPA's waste water treatment standards as a major factor.

Ingham said the "current restraints" were not evident in April when they took over from Sunnybrand and it was promised no jobs would be lost.

They said they had strived to maintain employee labour levels but had to restructure to ensure the plant would be a sustainable business.

A former employee said that compliance with EPA standards had been an issue for a while. "It's just good timing to use the EPA as an excuse. Everyone knew about it but they hoped they would do something about it to help save the amount (of water) they were using for production."

In a statement yesterday, the EPA said they had been working with Ingham since before they bought the Byron Bay plant last year.

"These discussions included the need to upgrade the waste water treatment and disposal systems at the facility," a spokesman said.

"During these discussions Ingham was clearly informed of the waste water quality standards it would be expected to comply with.

"Compliance with these standards is critical in order to protect human health and safety and the environment within the Belongil Creek catchment."

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