Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has fined a Morwell based company more than $8,000 over coal-laden water runoff that entered a wetland at Hazelwood North, in May this year.
EPA Regional Manager for the Gippsland Region, Stephen Lansdell, says Omnia Specialities (Australia) Pty Ltd has been fined for depositing industrial waste into stormwater, in contravention of Section 27A(2)(a) of the Environment Protection Act 1970.
“The runoff was unlikely to affect people’s health, in part because it flowed into Firmins Lane Wetlands, but there was high potential for it to harm aquatic life in the wetland,” Mr Lansdell said.
“We fined the company for a similar incident in 2017 so this is very disappointing. Thanks go to our ever-vigilant EPA officers who were in the area inspecting another site when they observed brown sediment-laden water in the stormwater drain on Porters Rd. They traced it back to a large coal stockpile at Omnia’s premises at 260 Tramway Rd,” he said.
The officers observed dark coal-laden water pooling near the coal stockpile, with water discharging into onsite stormwater drains, then flowing approximately 500 metres to the wetlands to the north of the premises.
“Along with the $8,060 fine, EPA issued a Minor Works Pollution Abatement Notice that required the company to install additional measures to prevent any further incidents. I’m pleased to say this work has been completed,” Mr Lansdell said.
“The site did not have appropriate bunding in place to contain any runoff, and there were no effective systems to identify waste discharge in stormwater,” he said.
EPA will continue inspections of the site to check any runoff from the premises is not contaminated with coal sediment.
Under the Environment Protection Act 1970 and the Infringements Act 2006, the company has the right to have the decision to issue the infringement notice reviewed or alternatively to have the matter heard and determined by a court.
Victoria’s new environment laws take effect on 1 July 2020 and introduce a general environmental duty requiring businesses and individuals to prevent harm to the environment and human health. Learn more on EPA’s website at www.epa.vic.gov.au/newlaws
Members of the public can report pollution by calling EPA’s 24 hour hotline on 1300 EPA VIC (1300 372 842).