Water pollution incident costs Power Station more than $1.1 million

The owner and operator of Bayswater Power Station, AGL Macquarie Pty Limited, has entered into an Enforceable Undertaking worth $1.1 million with the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) following the pollution of a local creek.

In September 2019, a hole formed in a fly ash transfer pipeline resulting in the release of fly ash slurry which flowed overland into the dry bed of Bayswater Creek, in breach of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997.

Despite AGL Macquarie taking immediate action to stop the pollution leaking from the damaged pipeline once it became aware of the incident, an estimated 1,440 cubic metres of fly ash was released.

The undertaking, enforceable through the Land and Environment Court, will see AGL Macquarie spend up to $600,000 on upgrades to the pipeline and contribute $500,000 towards local environmental projects which are being determined.

It will also see AGL Macquarie provide a training session to members of the Australian Energy Council Environment Working Group on the application of specialised testing to ash pipelines and the benefits to environmental performance from the review of their processes, as well as paying the EPA’s legal and investigative costs of $87,800.

EPA Director Regulatory Operations Adam Gilligan said the financial undertaking would be put to good use.

“This Enforceable Undertaking is a good environmental result which will see AGL Macquarie contributing a significant amount of funding to projects directly benefiting the local environment and community, as well as towards vital industry training,” Mr Gilligan said.

“This outcome should also serve as a reminder to industry that environmental incidents such as this can come at a significant cost, and preventing such incidents makes good business sense.”

The local environmental projects will be for the benefit of the local community and approved by the EPA.

AGL Macquarie has since amended its alarm management system to help identify any potential leaks in the future.

Enforceable Undertakings are one of a number of tools the EPA can use to achieve environmental compliance. Through an Enforceable Undertaking, the EPA may secure outcomes such as environmental restoration measures or contributions to environmental projects. The undertaking is enforceable by the Land and Environment Court.

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