Call 000 to report major pollution incidents
If you observe a major pollution incident that presents an immediate threat to human health or property, such as toxic fumes or a large chemical spill, call 000 to report it to emergency services. As first responders, Fire and Rescue NSW, the NSW Police and the NSW Ambulance Service are responsible for controlling and containing incidents.
Information to record if you see pollution
If you observe pollution, note as many details of the incident as possible as this will help the EPA, or other responsible authority, to investigate the incident or issue.
- Who observed the incident - names and contact details
- What is the issue, for example dust, noise, odour or illegal dumping
- When it happened - the time and date, how long it lasted, if it has happened before
- Where it happened - the address and nearest cross streets
- How it has impacted your health or comfort or damaged your property
- Other information such as weather conditions, descriptions of people that may have been responsible for the incident
- Evidence such as photos or videos
First, contact the company or person causing the pollution
If you observe pollution which is not an emergency and it is safe to do so, contact the organisation or person causing the pollution. If it is a licensed premises with an Environment Protection Licence, they are required to have a complaints line and may be able to take immediate action.
Report to the responsible authority
The EPA may not be responsible for regulating or responding to the pollution that you observe. The local council or another organisation may be responsible for regulating the pollution and is the appropriate agency to report the incident to.
View contact details to report issues involving
- Chemicals and radiation
- Mine regulation
- Motor vehicles
- Smoky vessels
- Waste and litter
- Other pollution
You have a duty to report pollution if you cause it or occupy land where it occurs
Anyone engaged in an activity resulting in a pollution incident has a duty to report the incident. If you occupy land where a pollution incident occurs you must also report it. Failure to do so is an offence and carries a fine.
- Find out more about the duty to notify pollution incidents
- If you hold an environment protection licence call the EPA on 131 555
- If you don't hold an environment protection licence call your local council.
What happens next?
We investigate alleged incidents of actual or potential environmental harm and, when appropriate, take regulatory action.
An investigation can take weeks, months or longer depending upon the amount and type of evidence required to complete the investigation. EPA Authorised Officers assess the site of the incident and collect evidence including documents, data, information and records, videos, photographs, environmental samples, statements and records of interview.
The decision to continue an investigation is based on the nature and circumstances of the incident, any potential offences that may have been committed, the available evidence, the severity of the environmental harm, the impacts on human health and level of community concern.
We can issue various investigative notices and use powers to obtain information during an investigation and in the administration of the environment protection legislation.
When we complete our investigation, we consider the appropriate regulatory action to take, in line with our regulatory policy. If a prosecution is the appropriate regulatory action, charges are laid in the Land and Environment Court or the Local Court.
The prosecution will only commence when we have the appropriate evidence to support a charge. This may be many months after an incident and the investigation.