Waste water discharge and offensive odours cost Allied Mills $30,000

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has fined flour supplier Allied Mills Pty Ltd $30,000 for two pollution incidents at its Tamworth starch factory.

In both incidents, poor maintenance led to waste water being discharged at a very high temperature into stormwater drain, and on another occasion, untreated onto a nearby farm causing an offensive odour for local residents.

NSW EPA Acting Manager Armidale Region Lindsay Fulloon said the incidents and fines highlighted that it pays to stay on top of routine maintenance.

"These incidents put aquatic life in the Peel River at risk and caused significant inconvenience to the community. The unfortunate thing is, both could have been avoided with regular equipment checks."

The first incident occurred on 25 October 2015. Waste water was discharged to the stormwater system at a very high temperature of 68.2 degrees Celsius, which is considered to be thermal water pollution.

EPA officers investigated and concluded that Allied Mill failed to comply with required maintenance procedures, causing the pollution incident. The EPA subsequently issued Allied Mills with a $15,000 fine for contravening the conditions of their licence and failing to operate and maintain plant and equipment in a proper and efficient manner.

Allied Mills were issued with a second $15,000 fine for a separate incident where untreated waste water was irrigated on to farm land on Scott Road, prompting several local residents to contact the EPA with concerns about offensive odours.

Under their environment protective licence, Allied Mills is permitted to pipe waste water to the farm for storage, treatment and disposal by irrigation. However, in late January this year, an employee at the farm closed a valve that switched the pH dosing system off, subsequently resulting in untreated waste water being used to irrigate the farm.

The EPA understands that Allied Mills is implementing a major upgrade of their factory in Marius Street, Tamworth. This upgrade is designed to deliver significant environmental improvements, including a 90 per cent reduction of pollutant concentrations in the waste water that is being piped to the irrigation farm.

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 enforcement work visit http://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/legislation/prosguid.htm