Origin Energy fined $15,000 for ash dam dust

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has fined Origin Energy Eraring Pty Ltd $15,000 after dust from an ash dam at the company’s Eraring Power Station was blown offsite during strong winds.

The EPA inspected the site on 27 September 2016 after the EPA’s Environment Line received multiple calls from members of the public reporting large quantities of dust escaping from the premises.

EPA Director Hunter Karen Marler said that Origin’s failure to appropriately manage the storage of ash was unacceptable.

“While a strong north westerly wind caused the dust to leave the dam, this could have been avoided,” Ms Marler said.

“Management of ash is so important because it can cause impacts on the environment, including smothering aquatic environments and generating dust pollution.

“To prevent this type of incident in the future, Origin Energy have reviewed and are developing an ash dam dust monitoring network which will inform their emergency response.

“We look forward to reviewing their plans for the network so we can continue to ensure the environment around the Eraring facility is protected.”

Fly ash is one of the combustion products generated from coal-fired power stations. It is composed of fine particles that are driven out of the boiler with the flue gases.

Some fly ash is also used in the cement industry as an environmentally-friendly replacement, which creates a more resilient and longer lasting concrete. The majority of fly ash is collected and disposed of in ash dams.

Penalty notices, official cautions and prevention notices are a number of tools the EPA can use to protect the environment and achieve environmental compliance. The EPA takes in a range of factors into account to determine its regulatory response, including the degree of environmental harm, potential health impacts, compliance history, public interest and best environmental outcomes.

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


The EPA encourages members of the community with knowledge of a pollution incident to contact the EPA’s 24 hour Environment Line on 131 555 and report the matter.