Enforceable Undertaking ensures $100,000 for environmental works in Wollongong

As a result of a pollution incident by rail-based coal haulage company Pacific National an EPA Enforceable Undertaking (EU) has committed the company to give $100,000 to support environmental works in Tom Thumb Lagoon and Wollongong City Greenhouse Park.

The Port Kembla based operation will be required to give $50,000 to non-profit organisation Conservation Volunteers Australia and a further $50,000 to Wollongong City Council, for environmental and education work at Tom Thumb Lagoon and Greenhouse Park.

The EU also requires Pacific National to develop an ‘Environmental Impacts and Aspects Assessment Report’ that prioritises actions to improve environmental performance across their statewide operations, and to report on progress to the EPA every six months in relation to their Port Kembla operations.

EPA Chief Environmental Regulator Mark Gifford said that the EU followed an investigation into an oily water spill from the Port Kembla premises on 12 December 2011.

“An EPA investigation found that about 500 litres of oily water had spilled into a remnant wetland that provides habitat for a range of birds and animals including migratory birds protected under international agreements and threatened species,” Mr Gifford said.

“The quick notification and response of Pacific National enabled the placement of booms to prevent leakage into nearby waterways and investigation into the source of the spill, which resulted in minimal risk of harm to human health or the environment.

“Investigations by the company found that the spill was the result of a previously unknown stormwater connection from an old decommissioned oil separator sump onsite that has since been disconnected.

“To minimise the risk of reoccurrence Pacific National also initiated a protocol at its Port Kembla site to ensure regular inspections of the sump for potential leaks and improved maintenance programs.”

Mr Gifford said that after taking into account the nature of the incident, the low environmental impact and the company’s response to date, an EU was determined to be the best regulatory response.

“The EPA believes that the EU provides outcomes that deliver environmental improvements to Pacific National’s Port Kembla operations as well as assisting other organisations to deliver conservation programs and educational work in the area,” Mr Gifford said.

“The EPA considers this outcome to be the best result for the environment and the community.”