AGL Macquarie Pty Ltd fined $15,000 by the NSW EPA

AGL Macquarie Pty Ltd, which operates the Bayswater Power Station near Muswellbrook, has been fined $15,000 by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA). The Penalty Notice (PN) was issued after AGL Macquarie admitted responsibility for the discharge of ammonia contaminated water into Tinkers Creek.

On 9 April 2015 AGL Macquarie reported the incident to the EPA, after approximately 50 – 100 litres of ammoniated water washed into a stormwater drain and then passed through a licensed discharge point into Tinkers Creek, exceeding the pH limit range allowed under the company’s environment protection licence.

The incident occurred during a re-certification of a bulk ammonia tank.

EPA Manager for the Hunter Region, Adam Gilligan, said in this instance the environmental impact on Tinkers Creek was minimal but the company needs to improve its environmental management systems.

“Our investigation has found that the environmental harm was minimal mainly due to the dilution of the ammonia in the water and the relatively small volume which was released. 

“However this is the third chemical spill incident that AGL Macquarie is responsible for this year which suggests a lack of appropriate environmental controls.

"It is for this reason that the EPA has issued the Company with a penalty notice for the offence of failing to comply with an environment protection licence condition.

“This incident is a lesson to all companies to plan and manage any water related process with care and consideration of the potential risks to the environment,” Mr Gilligan said.  

Penalty notices are just one of a number of tools the EPA can use to achieve environmental compliance, including formal warnings, licence conditions, notices and directions, mandatory audits, enforceable undertakings, legally binding pollution reduction programs and prosecutions.

For more information about the EPA’s regulatory tools, see the EPA Compliance Policy