EPA issues $15,000 fine for pollution offence

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has fined Suez Recycling & Recovery (Port Stephens) $15,000 for an alleged water pollution offence at its Raymond Terrace landfill.

In July 2018, Suez contacted the EPA’s Environment Line reporting that leachate (liquid that drains from a landfill) had flowed into a stormwater drain, and then off site into a wetland.

EPA Acting Manager Regional Waste Compliance Trevor Wilson said when EPA officers inspected the landfill they observed a dark brown coloured liquid in shallow water in the wetland.

“The water pollution was caused by the discharge of leachate from the landfill. The EPA takes matters like these seriously and will not tolerate the pollution of waters, particularly into a wetland,” Mr Wilson said.

An estimated 1000 litres of leachate leaked from a broken transfer pipe in the south of the site, flowed across a haul road, into a drain, and then into the wetland.

“Leachate can be harmful to the environment by killing aquatic life and impacting on the overall health of creeks and waterways. The spill was only discovered by chance and the cause of the broken pipe is not known. This demonstrates a possible failure by Suez to properly maintain its plant and equipment.”

Suez responded promptly to the spill, cleaning it up and putting additional mitigation measures into place.

“The EPA will continue to monitor the company to ensure they are operating in accordance with environmental laws,” said Mr Wilson.  

Penalty notices are one of a number of tools the EPA can use to achieve environmental compliance including formal warnings, official cautions, licence conditions, notices and directions and prosecutions. For more information about the EPA’s regulatory tools, see the EPA Compliance Policy at www.epa.nsw.gov.au/legislation/prosguid.htm