There were 73 responses to the survey. The survey found
- 82% of respondents believed the revised guideline and templates would help them develop a better PIRMP.
- 85% of respondents believe they fully understand the PIRMP requirements.
- 81% of respondents do not require additional guidance to help them meet their requirements.
- 82% of respondents did not require any additional tools from the EPA to assist them to meet their requirements.
- Respondents generally found the revised guideline clearer and easier to understand.
- Some respondents would like to receive additional help from the EPA to develop their PIRMPs, though additional information, such as workshops or training
- Some respondents raised concerns with the duplication of PIRMP content with other documents such as emergency management plans, environmental management systems, emergency response plans
Summary of submissions
The EPA received 16 written submissions on the revised PIRMP Guideline from
- 4 NSW Government organisations
- 1 Industry association
- 10 Corporations
- 1 Individual submission
The EPA has summarised the major issues raised in these submissions and the EPA response to those issues.
Requirement to test PIRMP within one month of any pollution incident. This can be quite broad and unreasonable. The requirements should be for only those incidents that require the PIRMP to be activated.
1 industry association, 3 corporations, 3 government organisations
Also raised multiple times in survey responses
Clause 98E(2)(b) of the Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Regulation 2009 (POEO General Regulation) states that the PIRMP must be tested within 1 month of any pollution incident occurring in the course of an activity to which the licence relates.
The EPA will consider feedback on the need to clarify that the requirement is limited to testing incidents that cause or threaten to cause material harm to the environment. This will include consideration of relevant provisions of the POEO General Regulation provisions and the guideline.
In the meantime, clause 98E(2)(b) of the POEO General Regulation continues to apply.
Requirement to have a hard copy of the PIRMP should not be compulsory.
2 Government organisations, 4 corporations, 1 individual
Under section 153D of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act) and clause 98D of the POEO General Regulation, a licensee must ensure that
- a copy of the PIRMP be kept at the premises to which the environment protection licence relates or where the activity takes place, and
- be made readily available to an authorised officer on request.
Licensees are always required to have a copy readily available on the premises.
The EPA strongly recommends that a hard copy is kept on the premises, to allow for a power failure and/or internet outage. If a hard copy is not kept on the premises, licensees must ensure the PIRMP is always readily accessible.
Requirement to have a copy of the PIRMP on at the premises to which the environment protection licence relates or where the activity takes place is not reasonable for certain activities, as the PIRMP response may be completed off the licensed premises.
1 Government organisation
The requirement to keep a copy of the PIRMP at the premises to which the environment protection licence relates or where the activity takes place is set out in section 153D of the POEO Act. The EPA is not currently considering changes to the POEO Act.
EPA is proposing to develop separate complementary guidance to assist licensees whether this may be an issue; e.g. linear infrastructure and premises that include systems of piping.
Some of the requirements are difficult and/or impractical for premises that are
- made up of large, linear infrastructure,
- those not restricted to a single geographical site e.g. Railway activities – rolling stock operations.
Issues relate to
- Requirement have a hard copy of the PIRMP at the premises or the place where the activity takes place. These types of licences often may have permanent offices outside of the licensed premises.
- Challenge of addressing all requirements in a single document
- How pipe networks, railway infrastructure etc can be mapped
- Inventory of pollutants stored on the premises in the case of railway activities – rolling stock operations.
2 Government organisations, 3 corporations
The EPA will consider developing specific and complementary PIRMP guidance for premises that involve large areas and or linear infrastructure.
This would be developed as a companion document to the Guideline.
Communicating real-time information with neighbours and the community is difficult for some premises due to
- Location within densely populated areas
- The nature of the activity being undertaken.
3 corporations, 1 individual
Under clause 98C(1)(i) of the POEO General Regulation the PIRMP must include details of the mechanisms for providing early warnings and regular updates to the owners and occupiers of premises in the vicinity.
It is important to consider how information will be provided in the event of an incident. The PIRMP must detail the methods and systems to provide early warnings and regular updates to those in the neighbouring vicinity. Information must be provided at reasonable stages during an incident and in a timely manner. Information should respond to the requests of the neighbouring community where practical and possible.
Guidelines should include timing of preparation of the PIRMP as this is not specified in the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 or Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Regulation 2009.
1 Government organisation
The Guideline has been amended to clarify that new licensees must prepare a PIRMP prior to commencing operations.
Concerns with making the PIRMP publicly available, due to sensitive information contained in the plan.
Also raised in survey responses
The requirements to make certain parts of the PIRMP available on an accessible website or providing a copy upon written request is set out in clause 98D of the General Regulation 2009.
Only certain components of the PIRMP are required to be made public. Those components are set out in clause (D)(3)(a) and (b). For premises-based licences the information is restricted to
- The procedures to be followed in notifying a pollution incident to
- Owners and occupiers within the vicinity of the premises to which the PIRMP relates
- The local authority that the area which the PIRMP relates to is located and any other area affected or potentially affected by the pollution
- Any persons or authorities required to be notified by part 5.7 of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997.
- The contact details for the relevant authorities referred to in section 148 of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997
- Mechanisms for providing early warnings and updates to premises within the vicinity of the premises to which the licence relates or the scheduled activity takes place.
None of the information required would be sensitive in nature and would not contain specific details of the operations at the premises.