WestConnex contractor ordered to pay $445,000 after EPA prosecution

The Land and Environment Court has convicted CPB Contractors Pty Ltd for causing an offensive odour to be emitted from the WestConnex St Peters M5 Interchange during 2017. The contractor was prosecuted by the NSW Environment Protection Authority.

The Court ordered CPB to pay $295,000 to the Environmental Trust in lieu of a fine, and $150,000 in EPA investigative and legal costs.

EPA Regional Director Metropolitan Giselle Howard said the contractor’s failings were significant.

“The Court found that the odour from untreated leachate or contaminated water pooling at the interchange site caused substantial harm to the community and impacted human health,” Ms Howard said.

“Our investigation identified that the impacts included physical pain, illness and difficulties breathing, including asthma attacks. CPB acknowledged that this harm was foreseeable.

“The company acknowledged to the Court that it should have engaged a suitably qualified expert for advice on managing leachate - contaminated water - prior to starting construction at the interchange.”

The Court ordered CPB to send a letter of apology to residents in the area surrounding the interchange.

The Court has also required CPB to publish details of the offences in the Australian Financial Review, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Inner West Courier, as well as on the company’s website, Facebook page, Twitter account and in the next Annual Report of its parent company, CIMIC Group.  

Between March and July 2017, the EPA investigated numerous community complaints about the offensive odour from the Interchange. The EPA prosecuted CPB on four charges of causing offensive odours to be emitted from the interchange site, in contravention of section 129(1) of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997.  CPB pleaded guilty to all four charges. 

The Court acknowledged that the odour persisted for a long time and seriously impacted the lives of people in the surrounding community.

Members of the community gave evidence which was relied upon by the Court in determining an appropriate penalty.

Ms Howard said the EPA acknowledged the engagement of community members from the affected suburbs in the prosecution. 

Pollution incidents can be reported via the Environment Line on 131 555.

Prosecutions 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. For more information about the EPA’s regulatory tools, see the EPA Compliance Policy at www.epa.nsw.gov.au/legislation/prosguid.htm