The Protection of the Environment Legislation Amendment Act 2011 introduced the changes below to improve the way pollution incidents are reported and managed.
Most of the changes apply to the holders of environment protection licences under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act). However, any person carrying on an activity or an occupier of a premises also has revised obligations relating to the notification of pollution incidents.
Pollution incident notification requirements
Commenced 6 February 2012
Licensees under the POEO Act and anyone carrying on an activity or occupying a premises who becomes aware of a pollution incident are required to report pollution incidents immediately instead of ‘as soon as practicable’ under section 148 of the POEO Act. For more information, see Protocol for industry notification of pollution incidents.
View the frequently asked questions regarding the duty to notify of a pollution incident.
Duty to prepare and implement pollution incident response management plans
Commenced 29 February 2012
Licensees are required to prepare pollution incident response management plans for each licensed activity, in accordance with the requirements set out in Part 5.7A of the POEO Act.
The content of these plans has been specified in a Regulation: view the Regulation.
This Regulation has now been incorporated into Part 3A of the Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Regulation 2009.
In early 2012, the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) consulted on the contents of the Regulation and the following table shows how the EPA responded to the issues raised during the consultation: consultation notes table.
The EPA has prepared guidelines to assist licensees in preparing plans
The following email address is available to provide feedback or request the inclusion of specific information in any future version of the guidelines: firstname.lastname@example.org
A pollution incident response management plan template is available for trackable waste transporters.
New associated offences have been introduced for not preparing a plan or keeping it at the premises to which it relates, not testing a plan in accordance with the Regulation, and not implementing a plan when an incident occurs.
The requirement to prepare and implement plans commenced on 29 February 2012 with all necessary plans to be in place within 6 months, that is, by 1 September 2012.
For further information on the plans and Regulation, see the frequently asked questions.
Requirements for licensees to publish monitoring results
Commenced 31 March 2012
In accordance with section 66(6) of the POEO Act and written requirements issued by the EPA, licensees are required to publish pollution monitoring data that has been collected as a result of a licence condition. This obligation does not apply to any monitoring conducted prior to 31 March 2012. There are offences for failure to publish monitoring data and for publishing false or misleading data.
The EPA has now completed a 12-month review of the requirements for publishing and providing pollution monitoring data.
The EPA has the power to place a condition on a licence requiring a mandatory environmental audit. This commenced 6 February 2012.
The EPA and the Ministry of Health have explicit powers to require the occupier of a premises and any person they reasonably suspect of causing a pollution incident to pay for an analysis of the human health and environmental risks arising from the incident. This commenced 6 February 2012.
The EPA has the power to direct the occupier of premises where a pollution incident that causes or threatens material harm to the environment has occurred to notify all others of the incident as the EPA thinks necessary. This commenced 6 February 2012.
Commenced 31 March 2012, the information included on the public registers of Appropriate Regulatory Authorities (such as the EPA and local councils) expanded to include details of
any mandatory audit required to be undertaken from that date in relation to a licence (EPA only)
- each pollution study required by a condition of a licence undertaken from that date (EPA only)
- each pollution reduction program required by a condition of a licence undertaken from that date (EPA only)
each penalty notice issued from that date (EPA and other Appropriate Regulatory Authorities)