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Environment Protection Authority

EPA proposes Mandatory Environmental Audit for Truegain at Rutherford

Media release: 4 March 2016

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has today served notice on Truegain Pty Limited (also known as Australian Waste Oil Refineries) that it intends to require the company to conduct a Mandatory Environmental Audit of its waste oil processing facility at Rutherford, near Maitland.

EPA Director North Branch, Gary Davey, said the EPA has issued the notice following ongoing concerns about the site’s poor regulatory history.

“Truegain has repeatedly failed to comply with a range of conditions under its Environment Protection Licence,” he said.

“The EPA has issued Truegain with 18 penalty notices since 2000, and has successfully prosecuted Truegain twice in the NSW Land & Environment Court. The prosecutions were for water pollution in 2003 and for failing to undertake its licensed activities in a competent manner, in 2014.”

Air emission testing results reported in Truegain’s 2014-15 Annual Return showed exceedances of the levels of contaminants allowed under the company’s environment protection licence. The contaminants included hydrogen chloride, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and cadmium.

The Mandatory Environmental Audit would require Truegain to audit its practices and procedures across the entire site. Truegain would be required to report back to the EPA after determining:

  • The adequacy of controls and procedures to test waste products prior to processing and to identify contaminant concentration levels that could lead to pollution
  • The operation and maintenance of pollution control equipment
  • The adequacy of bundling and spill management for the storage of waste chemicals and materials
  • The potential for offsite impacts on groundwater from historical storage and spillages at the premises.

Truegain has until 7 March 2016 to respond to the EPA notice and provide comments on the proposed mandatory audit. Should the EPA proceed to require the audit, the company will have six months to complete the work, once a suitable auditor is engaged. The auditor must be approved by the EPA and the cost of the audit is borne by Truegain.

The EPA uses mandatory environmental audits in circumstances where serious environmental breaches are detected, or a pattern of environmental non-compliance emerges. It is one of a range of compliance tools available to the EPA.

The more recent detection by Hunter Water Corporation of perfluorinated compound (PFC)  discharges at the Rutherford facility are not related to this regulatory action. The EPA is working with Hunter Water Corporation to determine the possible source, or sources, of the PFCs detected in onsite tradewaste.

Following the detection of PFCs at the Truegain premises in January 2016, Hunter Water Corporation physically shut off Truegain’s tradewaste discharge, meaning Truegain cannot process any wastewater on site until further notice. Truegain can currently continue to process waste oils with low water content, as the company has capacity to store some wastewater on site.

For more information about the EPA’s regulatory tools, see the EPA Compliance Policy

Contact: Public Affairs

Page last updated: 04 March 2016