Regulation in action
As the environmental regulator for NSW, the EPA uses a range of tools to achieve compliance including education, warnings, penalty notices, enforceable undertakings and prosecutions.
Ready to carry out a site inspection
The following spotlights some of the regulatory actions undertaken over the past months, the regulatory action table gives a numerical snapshot.
Discharge costs council $543,000 after EPA action
In 2019, a storage tank at Wallerawang Sewage Treatment Plant failed, allowing 13,000 litres of highly corrosive caustic soda to discharge into a local watercourse and onto adjoining land. Council did not notify the EPA or implement their Pollution Incident Response Management Plan at the time of the spill.
Lithgow City Council has now entered into an Enforceable Undertaking with the EPA to improve its environmental performance after the event. The enforceable undertaking requires Lithgow City Council to spend $417,000 to drive improvements in Council’s environmental performance including additional training and staff. Council will also contribute a further $100,000 to deliver benefits to the local environment and community.
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.
Cleanaway cleans up operations
Inspecting the Cleanaway site at Unanderra
NSW EPA has fined Cleanaway Daniels Waste Services $30,000 over two alleged breaches of license conditions at their Unanderra clinical waste treatment plant. Breaches identified were failing to properly maintain waste processing equipment, and failing to process waste in a competent manner. Cleanaway Daniels was also issued an Official Caution for storing liquid waste greater than levels permitted.
EPA Director Regulatory Operations Giselle Howard said the premises had previously been the subject of seven recorded odour complaints in the 12 months to July 2019.
“The community can be assured that the EPA will take action to protect the environment and the community when breaches of operating conditions occur,” Giselle said.
EPA has added new conditions to the Cleanaway Daniels licence aimed at improving environmental performance.
Council fined more than $37,000 for asbestos breach
The Local Court of NSW has fined Narrabri Shire Council following an EPA investigation into an incident at Narrabri Landfill which exposed members of the public to the risk of inhaling asbestos. The Council was convicted of failing to notify the EPA immediately after it became aware of an asbestos pollution incident at Narrabri Landfill in November 2018, taking 12 days to notify the notify the EPA, during which time the landfill was open to the public and staff, exposing members of the public and several Council staff to potential inhalation of asbestos fibers.
The Court also ordered Narrabri Shire Council to pay the EPA’s legal and investigation costs totaling $37,000, and to publish details of the convictions and offences in local papers. Remediation works took place between November 2018 and May 2019.
Offensive fish odours costs abattoir $8,000 fine
Following more than 50 complaints received about offensive fish odours from a Cootamundra abattoir over a period of four months from February this year, the EPA has fined Australian Meat Group $8,000 for allegedly causing air pollution by processing fish without appropriate odour controls. , The abattoir processes fish meal for aquaculture.
While the Australian Meat Group has currently ceased processing fish at the site, the EPA has also issued a prevention notice to ensure fish processing does not recommence at the abattoir until an odour capture and treatment plant has been installed.
For more information about the EPA’s regulatory tools, see the EPA Compliance Policy
Regulatory action table 1 June to 31 August 2020
Note: COVID-19 restrictions have affected court proceedings with several matters being adjourned, resulting in reduced court matters and lower total financial penalties.
|Total financial penalties imposed||$109, 300|
Incident related = 90, Site Surveys = 26, Other = 486
|Prevention Notices issued (s.96)||6|
|Clean Up Actions issued (s.91)
|Clean Up Actions issued 2 (s.92(1))||0|
|Penalty Notices issued
Biodiversity Conservation Act = 2, Pesticides Act = 3, POEO = 22
|Infringement Notice for Littering from a motor vehicle issued||1,083|
|Environmental Improvement Programs commenced#||1|
|Pollution Reduction Programs commenced||22|
|Other Environmental Programs commenced||26|
|Enforceable Undertakings commenced - issued||2|
|Enforceable Undertakings worth||$840,000|
|Environmental programs total worth||$64,048,000|
** for example, inspections take place on building sites, waste storage sites and in forests
# these programs are set by the EPA through discussion with licensees