EPA fines BlueScope Steel for exceeding air quality limit

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has fined BlueScope Steel Limited $30,000 for allegedly failing to comply with dioxin air emission limits on six occasions in March and April 2020

BlueScope Steel recorded the limit exceedances between 26 March and 28 April during major maintenance activities at the Sinter Plant Waste Gas Cleaning Plant.  

EPA Director Regulatory Operations Metropolitan Giselle Howard says strict limits are outlined in the licence to regulate air emissions for this potentially harmful substance. These licence limits reflect a measure of international best practice for controls of dioxins.

As part of a response to the exceedances, BlueScope Steel completed air emissions modelling and engaged an independent consultant to undertake a health assessment of the elevated emissions.

“High levels of dioxins can be extremely harmful to human health, on this occasion air emissions modelling and a health assessment have shown that community impacts were unlikely from the emissions.”

“The local community has an expectation that every effort must be made to ensure that licensees will comply with their licence requirements and have best practice controls in place to protect people and the environment.”

In addition to being fined, BlueScope Steel will also be directed to complete several new Pollution Reduction Programs requiring a feasibility assessment of real time air emissions monitoring, updated air emissions modelling, and improved air emissions monitoring at the Sinter Plant during any future similar maintenance events.  

BlueScope Steel is also undertaking additional investigations to understand the root cause of the elevated dioxin emissions.

Penalty notices are one of several 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 on the EPA website