Offensive and vile smelling blast costs Muswellbrook mine $15,000

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has issued MACH Energy Australia Pty Ltd with a penalty notice for $15,000 after an alleged pungent smelling blast fume occurred at Muswellbrook’s Mount Pleasant Mine on June 15, 2020.

The Muswellbrook community acted immediately, reporting their concerns and photos to EPA’s Environment Line for investigation, following the blast, which could be seen and smelt in the vicinity.

Neighbouring properties were impacted with residents reporting they needed to seek shelter from the noxious fume released by the blast.

EPA Acting Director Operations Brett Nudd said there were a number of issues investigated that the EPA was concerned about, including effects on the neighbouring community.

“Blast fumes from mine sites must be contained within the mine boundary, as they contain oxides of nitrogen that may be harmful to human health at high concentrations”, Mr Nudd said.

“This alleged blast happened under weather conditions that resulted in blast fume going beyond the mine site and dispersing across neighbouring properties”.

“In addition, MACH Energy Australia failed to warn their neighbours of the potential of exposure to blast fume, and members of the community were either exposed or sought shelter to avoid the blast fume”.

“This incident was predictable and preventable, and the community should not have been impacted in this way”.

“The mining industry must carry out blasts so that they do not cause harm or interfere with the comfort of the community”.

“The EPA thanks the concerned Muswellbrook residents who called our Environment Line so quickly.”

Blast fumes from mines are reddish orange coloured gases with a pungent odour that may be generated during blasting. Normally gases produced during blasting disperse rapidly within the mine site and pose no acute health risk. Under certain conditions the gas plume may persist and can affect nearby people or residents who are downwind of the blast site.

Members of the community are encouraged to contact the EPA on the Environment Line 131 555 with reports or concerns about blasting.

Penalty notices are one of a number of tools the EPA can use to achieve environmental compliance, including formal warnings, licence conditions, notices and directions, mandatory audits, legally binding pollution reduction programs, enforceable undertakings and prosecutions.

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