Endeavour Coal fined $30,000

Mining company Endeavour Coal has been fined $30,000 by the NSW Environment Protection Authority after the Georges River was allegedly polluted with ferric chloride from Appin Colliery.

EPA Manager Illawarra Region Peter Bloem said the pollution incident caused a section of the Georges River near Kings Falls to become acidic and turn an orange brown colour.

“Sampling by the EPA at the time of the alleged incident showed that the river close to the discharge was acidic and had elevated turbidity with high levels of dissolved iron and zinc.

“While on this occasion no dead or injured animals were observed, the discharge was at levels that are toxic to aquatic species,” Mr Bloem said.

The environmental impacts from the incident were reduced due to prompt actions by the company, the presence of a river rock pool which allowed the discharge to be pumped back to the colliery and a rainstorm the following day which diluted the remaining pollutants.

The incident occurred on 18-19 October last year, when the company allegedly caused a sediment pond at the site to be overdosed with ferric chloride, used to treat and clarify water, and water was subsequently discharged from there into the Georges River.

Endeavour Coal has indicated that the discharge occurred when a ferric chloride dosing pump was incorrectly replaced the evening before by one with a larger dosing rate.

The $30,000 fine resulted from alleged breaches of two conditions of the EPA environment protection licence - including water pollution and failing to adequately maintain the ferric chloride dosing pump in a proper and efficient manner.

“Tests two weeks after the EPA inspection showed water in the affected area was clear, no residue was detected, and small fish were observed in the river,” Mr Bloem said.

“Endeavour Coal carried out remediation work and has undertaken to improve its maintenance, monitoring and warning systems,” he said.

If you suspect someone is doing the wrong thing, phone the NSW EPA on 131 555. Further information can be found at the NSW EPA’s website www.epa.nsw.gov.au.