Tarrawonga Coal fined after environmental breach at mine

The NSW Environment Protection Authority has fined Tarrawonga Coal Mine $15,000 after an alleged breach of its environment protection licence when a sediment dam failed at its mine near Boggabri.

EPA Manager Regional Operations Lindsay Fulloon said sediment dams are an important part of the pollution control system and they need to be maintained to ensure they work effectively.

“A sediment dam wall breached during heavy rain in February this year, causing sediment-laden water to discharge onto a neighbouring coal mine. Fortunately, the water was contained on this neighbouring site and did not make it to any waterways.

“EPA investigations show that the mine did not have a maintenance plan for the dam in place, including an inspection schedule which could have helped identify the emerging structural failings,” Mr Fulloon said.

Tarrawonga Coal Mine uses sedimentation dams to hold and treat sediment-laden water generated during mine operations to prevent sediment discharging into the environment.

The company is revising its maintenance plans to ensure that this incident does not reoccur.

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. In this instance the EPA issued a penalty notice. The notice recipient may pay the penalty notice, seek a review, or elect to have the matter determined by a court.

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