Business owners in Hume fear ACT taxpayers could be left with a more than $600,000 clean-up the bill if the owners of a nearby tip decide to abandon the site.
Concerns have been growing for several months in the industrial area about the tip, operated by Southern State Waste Recycling, with it estimated the site having three times the amount of rubbish permitted, some in piles more than 15 metres high.
Despite nearby businesses affected by the tip calling for more to be done to enforce environmental laws, co-ordinator of the Hume Traders Association Mike Steele fears the tip's owners could abandon the site if the pressure grows.
"It would easily be in excess of $650,000 to clear the site, and it could easily be close to $1 million," he said.
"You don't know if there's asbestos or other hazardous waste at the site, and if the pressure on the owners get to them, they could just leave and ratepayers would cover the bill."
The escalating situation regarding the tip was discussed at a closed meeting in early April held between affected businesses as well as Regulatory Services Minister Gordon Ramsay and Work Safety commissioner Greg Jones.
The meeting resulted in the ACT government reducing the cost of rent by 15 per cent for CSR Viridian, one of the businesses affected by the tip, due to land in the suburb being devalued since the tip opened.
The business' general manager of property Andrew Mackenzie said the territory government could be missing out on thousands of dollars of revenue if the rent reduction was also applied to other businesses.
"We invested $10 million [in the site] and hired 30 staff members and we want to get bigger, but we've been reluctant to because of the tip," he said.
Southern State has been operating at the Tralee Street site since September 2015, and Mr Steele said despite previous attempts to control the site, the situation had got worse.
"The main pile of the tip is now in excess of 15 metres high, and it's only supposed to go as high as the fence, which is 2.5 metres high. It's well and truly out of the guidelines."
"The government said they would monitor the situation and fairly strict constraints had to be put in, but since that point nothing has been resolved and the rubbish pile has been getting bigger and bigger."
Mr Jones said in February the government was considering action to bring the conditions at the tip back under control.
A spokeswoman for Access Canberra said while Southern State were operating in accordance with its lease, all legislation needed to be complied with.
"Due to the recent increase in size of the stockpile, and the activities of crushing, grinding and separating of materials, an Environmental Authorisation has been granted," the spokeswoman said.
A new environmental authorisation signed off on March 23 stated Southern State had six months to reduce the amount of rubbish on site to 4200 tonnes and not be higher than three metres.
The Access Canberra spokeswoman said the situation would be monitored, alongside the Environmental Protection Authority.
An environmental authorisation at the site was previously disallowed by the ACT government, after a development application lodged by Southern State for recycling facilities and other infrastructure was rejected.
Southern State had until last Friday to lodge another application.
Southern State declined to comment when approached by The Canberra Times.