GrainCorp convicted over environmental breaches at Port Kembla

The Land and Environment Court has convicted and penalised GrainCorp Operations Pty Ltd (GrainCorp) $40,200 for a breach of its environment protection licence at its Port Kembla Grain Terminal between 2016 and 2018.

GrainCorp was prosecuted by the NSW Environment Protection Authority for failing to carry out activities in a competent manner by incorrectly calculating and recording the emissions of fumigation chemicals used to treat grain.

Regional Manager Operations Illawarra Peter Bloem said the use of fumigation chemicals by GrainCorp requires vigilant management to ensure the environment and human health is protected at all times.

“The chemicals used to fumigate grain (phosphine and methyl bromide) can be hazardous to plants, animals and people and for this reason are subject to strict regulation by the EPA,” Mr Bloem said.

"The enforcement action is a reflection of the risks posed by these chemicals and the need to carry out activities in a competent manner at all times when using them”.

The company pleaded guilty. In addition to the $40,200 penalty, GrainCorp was ordered by the Court to pay the EPA’s legal costs. The company was also ordered to publish details of the conviction and offence in various newspapers and on its website and social media pages.

As part of the bulk grain shipping operations GrainCorp may fumigate grain at the premises if required to meet Australian quarantine regulations, its customer export requirements or if insects are detected in the grain.

GrainCorp advised that between February 2016 and January 2018 the emissions of chemical fumigants had not been correctly calculated and had also not been properly recorded. This resulted in the actual emission rate of fumigants exceeding licence conditions on 145 occasions. The Court found there was no actual environmental harm but the potential for harm was reasonably foreseeable.

GrainCorp attributed the cause of the offence to a calculation (human) error when interpreting the monitoring data.

GrainCorp advised the EPA when it became aware of the error in February 2018. The EPA and GrainCorp took immediate steps to rectify this issue and prevent a recurrence.

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

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