Namoi Cotton to pay more than $140,000 as part of an EPA Enforceable Undertaking following escape of cotton trash into Namoi River

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has entered into an Enforceable Undertaking (EU) with Namoi Cotton Co-operative Ltd to improve the co-operative’s environmental performance following an investigation into cotton trash entering the Namoi Gully and Namoi River from Namoi Cotton land at Wee Waa, NSW.

Under the EU, Namoi Cotton will make amends by paying $100,000 towards an environmental project in the Narrabri Shire Council local government area, and pay for the EPA’s legal and investigation costs totalling almost $44,000.

Namoi Cotton will also be required to remove all cotton trash from the land, immediately cease using the land for depositing of cotton trash, and review and update its internal environmental policies and systems.

In addition the company will need to provide training to its employees, undertake an environmental risk assessment of its operations, nominate senior managers with responsibilities for environmental performance and publish a notice in several local newspapers containing details of the EU.

Acting EPA Chief Environmental Regulator Giselle Howard said this was a good outcome for the environment following an EPA investigation that found there was potential for harm to the environment.

“EPA investigators found that Namoi Cotton had deposited cotton trash on land located adjacent to Namoi Cotton’s Warehouse and Shipping Complex at Wee Waa without an environment protection licence allowing it to do so,” Ms Howard said.

“A flood event in August 2012 then resulted in the collapse of part of the embankment surrounding the site which caused the cotton trash to discharge into the Namoi Gully and Namoi River.

“Although there was no actual environmental harm, the cotton trash had the potential to impact on the health of the aquatic environment as well as on downstream users.

“For these reasons, as well as the fact that Namoi Cotton deposited cotton trash without holding a licence, the EPA has taken action to correct the situation and ensure that it does not happen again.

“Namoi Cotton co-operated with the investigation and responded promptly to an EPA issued Clean Up Notice to fix the broken embankment, cease all cotton trash transport to the land and engage a contractor to clean up the Namoi Gully and Namoi River.

“This Enforceable Undertaking will further ensure that appropriate steps are taken within Namoi Cotton’s processes and operations to ensure that this type of environmental incident does not reoccur.”