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Environment Protection Authority

EPA takes further regulatory action to clean up Hydromet site

Media release: 11 December 2015

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is taking further regulatory action to accelerate the clean up of hazardous waste at Hydromet Corporation’s Tomago premises, north of Newcastle. The regulatory measures include a clean-up notice and a legally binding pollution reduction program (PRP) on the hazardous waste company’s environment protection licence.

Hydromet was fined by the EPA in August 2014 for incorrect storage of hazardous chemicals at the site and was subsequently directed by the EPA to remove 2000 tonnes of chemicals from the property. The company must now remove all hazardous waste and chemicals from the Tomago premises by March 2016.

The EPA’s Hunter Manager Adam Gilligan said the amended clean up notice was a better environmental outcome. Importantly, it will require an investigation of elevated levels of the metal selenium detected in an off-site drainage channel during routine sampling by Hydromet and reported to the EPA in October 2015.

“Due to the scale of the works and the hazardous nature of the chemicals involved, the pace of the clean up originally ordered by the EPA has not been as quick as we would have liked.

“The removal of all waste and chemicals will help facilitate inspections to understand the level of contaminated soil and groundwater on site. While there are no immediately apparent health concerns for the local community, the EPA will monitor the situation and review if any further action is required.” said Mr Gilligan.

Hydromet will transport the majority of hazardous materials to its Unanderra facility in Woolongong.

Notices of these kinds are just some of a number of tools the EPA can use to achieve environmental compliance. Others include: additional licence conditions, mandatory audits, enforceable undertakings and prosecutions.

The EPA must also take a range of factors into account before delivering a proportionate regulatory response, including the degree of environmental harm, whether or not there are any real or potential health impacts, if the action of the offender was deliberate, compliance history, public interest and best environmental outcomes.

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

Contact: EPA Public Affairs

Page last updated: 11 December 2015