Marina builder fined $15,000 for polluting waters at Shellharbour

A company working on a marina and boat harbour complex in the Illawarra region has been fined $15,000 by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) for allegedly polluting waters after the wall of a temporary dam failed, causing dirty muddy water to be discharged to Shellharbour South Beach.

Construction contractor Coastwide Civil built the temporary sand dam to manage the large amount of rainfall which had accumulated in the marina construction area in late July and early August. 

The collapse of the dam wall allowed a large volume of sediment-laden water to reach the ocean. The sediment plume was visible beyond the breakwater.

An EPA investigation found the dam failed on 17 August 2020, just four days after it was built.

EPA Director Regulatory Operations Giselle Howard said the turbid plume dissipated into the ocean and the dam was quickly repaired.

“Fortunately there were no obvious impacts to nearby marine life or plants. The impacts to water quality were short-term, as the water did not contain any chemicals, just sediment.

“However, both the EPA and the community expects the surrounding environment, including the ocean and beach of Shellharbour, to be protected from the impacts of any construction works.”  

Ms Howard said Coastwide Civil had notified the EPA of the incident quickly and carried out immediate repairs to the dam.

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.

For more information about the EPA’s regulatory tools, see the EPA Compliance Policy on the EPA website.