Central Coast factory fined for discharging wastewater

An Australian food company has been fined by the NSW Environment Protection Authority for allegedly discharging wastewater into a local waterway from its food production factory near Wyong.

The EPA fined Australian Health & Nutrition Association LTD (Sanitarium) $15,000, the largest fine the EPA is able to issue under its legislation, for a dirty water discharge into a local creek and lake, which can damage sensitive aquatic plants and animals.

The spill happened in February when Sanitarium was transferring wastewater to the sewer using a temporary piping arrangement. Pipework dislodged from the sewer manhole and the wastewater ran into a waterway.

EPA Director Regulatory Operations Adam Gilligan said Sanitarium allegedly did not have adequate checks in place and did not notice the dislodged pipework for at least three hours.

“A large quantity of wastewater flowed into a tributary of Ourimbah Creek, which flows into Tuggerah Lake,” Mr Gilligan said.

“When we analysed the discharged wastewater we found it was highly alkaline, which can damage sensitive aquatic environments.

“Aquatic life can be affected when pH levels rise too high or change rapidly.”

The EPA’s water quality analysis revealed a clear impact from the discharge in the downstream sampling location when compared with the upstream sampling results.

“This incident should be a reminder to everyone both in community and industry – spills of any kind can severely damage the health of our waterways, and the people and animals that rely on them.”

Members of the public are encouraged to report any water pollution incidents to Enviro Line on 131 555.

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