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Environment Protection Authority

EPA fines Ameropa Australia Kooragang facility $15,000

Media release: 9 March 2016

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has issued a $15,000 fine to Ameropa Australia Pty Ltd (Ameropa Australia) for contravening its environment protection licence.

EPA Hunter Manager Adam Gilligan said the fine was issued after an EPA officer observed vehicles exiting the company’s Kooragang facility and leaving a trail of fertiliser along several hundred metres of Greenleaf Road on 14 January 2016.

“Ameropa Australia’s Environment Protection Licence requires that the company ensures all vehicles leaving its premises are clean. This is to prevent materials and wastes being tracked onto a public road.

“Material on roads can be a major source of pollution from run-off following rain which enters stormwater drains and then waterways; in this case, the Hunter River. That is why it is important that this source of potential pollution is controlled. There is ample evidence of the impacts to waterways from elevated nutrient levels from fertilisers,” he said.

Mr Gilligan said that the EPA has already taken action against Ameropa Australia regarding its environmental compliance in the past.

“Since 1 June 2013 the EPA has imposed five Pollution Reduction Programs on Ameropa Australia.”

“While the company has made efforts to improve surface water management at the premises and implement controls such as wheel washing, it appears there are ongoing issues with tracking of material from the premises.”

The incident on 14 January 2016 has also attracted an Official Caution from the EPA for pollution of waters and failing to undertake a licensed activity in a competent manner.

“The EPA’s analysis of the tracked fertiliser on Greenleaf Road showed it to be low in pH and had elevated concentrations of a range of chemicals including nitrogen, phosphorus, aluminium, cadmium, calcium, magnesium, manganese, potassium, sulphur and zinc. If this had found its way into the Hunter River, it could have affected water quality.”

“Ameropa Australia engaged a road sweeper on 14 January 2016 to assist with the management of Greenleaf Road, the site exit and internal roads at the company’s premises. However, the operation of road sweepers is not considered fully effective at cleaning up fertiliser products that are worked into the road surface by vehicle traffic.”

Penalty notices are one of a number of tools the EPA can use to achieve environmental compliance, including formal warnings, licence conditions, notices and directions, mandatory audits, enforceable undertakings, legally binding pollution reduction programs 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.

Ends 

Contact: EPA Public Affairs

Page last updated: 09 March 2016