Fines for coal mine for dirty water discharge
Whitehaven’s Tarrawonga Coal Mine has been fined and ordered to do an environmental audit after it allegedly discharged dirty water from a failed sediment dam at its mine near Boggabri, in north western NSW.
The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has fined the mine $30,000 after its third alleged illegal discharge of dirty water since 2020.
The mine is also alleged to have exceeded discharge limits in the lead up to a major storm with heavy rainfall in March this year.
EPA Acting Executive Director Regulatory Operations Greg Sheehy said water sample results sent to the EPA indicated poor environmental standards at the mine.
“The results show that erosion, sediment controls and water management were not meeting the requirements of good environmental practice,” Mr Sheehy said.
“We found high levels of metal and bicarbonates discharged from the mine site in to nearby Goonbri Creek.
“This can harm the environment and has the potential to cause toxic effects on aquatic ecosystems.”
After allegedly failing to operate sediment basins in a proper and efficient manner, and with three illegal discharges since 2020, the EPA issued two penalty infringement fines of $15,000 each and imposed a Mandatory Environmental Audit to improve protection to the surrounding mine environment.
The audit involves an EPA-approved independent expert assessing water management, including erosion and sediment control practices at the mine.
“The auditor will conduct a thorough assessment, including examining Tarrawonga Coal Mine’s sediment dam construction and capacity, and dirty water management infrastructure,” Mr Sheehy said.
“The site needs to be operating in line with best industry practice and this audit will help achieve that standard.”
The fines issued are the largest amount that the EPA can issue under its legislation.
For more information about the EPA’s regulatory tools, see the EPA Compliance Policy at www.epa.nsw.gov.au/legislation/prosguid.htm