EPA fines Port of Newcastle Operations $15,000

Port of Newcastle Operations Pty Limited has received a $15,000 fine after fertiliser being unloaded from a ship spilt into the Newcastle Harbour polluting the water.

Environment Protection Authority Director Hunter Karen Marler said the fine was issued after as much as 200kg of phosphate fertiliser may have entered harbour waters.

“The EPA alleges that fertiliser spilt while being unloaded by crane from a ship in June 2018 and the containment tarpaulin in place to catch such spills tore, under the weight of the fertiliser, causing fertiliser to fall into the harbour.

“The discharge of such a large quantity of fertiliser into the harbour is by no means trivial, and had the potential to adversely impact the water quality in the harbour,” Mrs Marler said.

“Fertiliser spills can contribute to algal blooms and harm and disrupt estuarine ecosystems.”

The Port of Newcastle Operations has committed to installing new equipment to support future operations, to prevent further leakages.

Along with the $15,000 fine for water pollution, Port of Newcastle Operations was issued with an Official Caution for not immediately reporting the incident to the EPA, as is required under environmental legislation.

“The EPA will continue to inspect unloading operations to ensure products like fertiliser are handled properly and environmental impact is front of mind for all harbourside operators,” Mrs Marler said.

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