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Environment Protection Authority

EPA fines Bega Valley Shire Council $15,000

Media release: 21 February 2017

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has fined Bega Valley Shire Council $15,000 after it failed to properly comply with a condition of its operating licence for the Central Waste Facility at Wolumla in November 2016.

EPA South East Region Manager Nigel Sargent said the EPA responded to an Environment Line report on 9 November 2016, and found that Council had not properly followed their own procedures in their Stormwater Dam Management Plan which resulted in sediment laden stormwater discharge reaching Wolumla Creek.

Mr Sargent said that although Council had developed operational procedures designed to ensure that the environment was properly protected, stormwater runoff from paddocks surrounding the landfill area had been pumped out of a stormwater dam without full treatment.

“Testing carried out by the EPA showed that the sediment levels in the water dropped quickly after the discharge reached Wolumla Creek so we are lucky in this instance that the impacts on the creek were quite small,” Mr Sargent said.

“We are always concerned when excess sediment makes it way to freshwater water rivers and streams because it can alter oxygen levels in the water smothering aquatic organisms and their habitat.

“The EPA and the local community expect Bega Valley Shire Council to have good environmental practices at all of their facilities and this incident could have been avoided if the Council’s own procedures had been followed”.

The EPA is encouraged to note that since the incident, Council has updated their operational procedures to improve compliance with environmental standards and expectations at the Central Waste Facility.

Penalty notices, official cautions and prevention notices are a number of tools the EPA can use to protect the environment and achieve environmental compliance. The EPA takes in a range of factors into account to determine its regulatory response, including the degree of environmental harm, potential health impacts, compliance history, public interest and best environmental outcomes.

For more information about the EPA’s regulatory tools, see the EPA Compliance Policy www.epa.nsw.gov.au/legislation/130251epacompl.htm.

The EPA encourages members of the community with knowledge of a pollution incident to contact the EPA’s 24 hour Environment Line on 131 555 and report the matter.

 

Contact: EPA public affairs

Page last updated: 21 February 2017