Failure to maintain storm water controls costs Werris Creek mine $15,000

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has fined Werris Creek Coal Pty Ltd $15,000 after an alleged uncontrolled water discharge on 18 February this year.

Werris Creek Coal operates the mine situated between Werris Creek and Quirindi south of Tamworth.

The EPA alleges that the mine failed to maintain a sediment basin in a proper and efficient manner.

EPA Manager Regulatory Operations Lindsay Fulloon said the mine allegedly failed to drain a sediment basin within the regulated five day period following previous heavy rain.

“Mines are required to maintain management systems which ensure sediment dams are appropriately managed so that the design capacity is available to capture sediment and prevent it from being unnecessarily discharged into our streams and waterways.”

“In this instance, Werris Creek Mine allegedly failed to treat and drain the water within the sediment dam following a previous rainfall event, which meant the full design capacity of the dam was not available when the area experienced further heavy rain on 18 February.”

The water escaped into the catchment of Werris Creek and contained potentially harmful pH levels as well as elevated levels of sediment.

“Proper management of dam water levels is a regulatory requirement and it is vital that mines manage water levels between rain events.

“The EPA alleges that the pond had not been drained since 3 February 2020, despite further heavy rain on 4 and 13 February 2020,” Mr Fulloon said.

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