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Environment Protection Authority

EPA fines Incitec Pivot $30,000 for water pollution and fertiliser offences

Media release: 21 January 2016

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has issued two penalty notices to Incitec Pivot Limited for breaching its Environment Protection Licence (EPL) in October 2015.

EPA Director North Gary Davey said Incitec was fined for water pollution after a sump pump failed and waste water entered the Hunter River. The second fine was for tracking fertiliser along Heron Road, on Kooragang Island.

“The Port Authority of NSW notified the EPA of a white-coloured discharge to the South Arm of the Hunter River on 12 October 2015,” Mr Davey said.

“The EPA investigated the complaint and determined that the discharge was caused by a series of overflows of wastewater in Incitec’s wheel wash, after a sump pump tripped during an electrical storm.”

“The EPA believes the incident may have been avoided if the wheel wash had been fitted with standby pumps and an alarm to alert operators to any potential discharge.”

Analysis of the wastewater revealed high nutrient concentrations. This can affect water quality and aquatic life.

The second penalty notice was issued for tracking fertiliser products along Heron Road on 14 October 2015.

“Incitec’s EPL requires that the company ensures all vehicles leaving its premises are clean, to prevent materials and wastes being tracked onto a public road. This is to stop pollution of waterways as the material may be washed into storm water drains and then into the river.”

“The EPA’s analysis of the tracked fertiliser material showed it to be low in pH and had high concentrations of a range of chemicals including nitrogen, phosphorus and zinc. If this had found its way into the Hunter River, it would have affected water quality and potentially other environmental values.”

“The EPA continues to work with major industries on Kooragang Island to ensure their activities are conducted in an environmentally safe manner, and to minimise pollution in the lower Hunter River estuary.

Members of the public are encouraged to report environmental incidents to the 24 hour Environment Line on 131 555.

Contact: Public Affairs

Page last updated: 21 January 2016