Healthy Environment, Healthy Community, Healthy Business

Environment Protection Authority

EPA commences Tier 1 prosecution against Clarence Colliery

Media release: 10 May 2016

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has commenced a prosecution in the Land and Environment Court against Clarence Colliery Pty Ltd, alleging a Tier 1 offence relating to the discharge of coal fines from the Clarence Colliery, near Lithgow, last year. 

Tier 1 offences are the most serious under the Protection of Environment Operations Act 1997 and come with a maximum penalty of $2,000,000 for a corporation

The EPA will allege that on about 1 to 2 July 2015 a spill incident occurred at the colliery, which resulted in hundreds of tonnes of coal material dispersing into the surrounding environment. Coal fines slurry also entered the Wollangambe River within the Blue Mountains National Park which is a part of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.

“This was a major environmental incident so in response the EPA has lodged the highest level tier 1 offence with the Land and Environment Court,” said EPA Chair and CEO, Barry Buffier.

Since the incident, the EPA has been monitoring the company’s extensive clean-up operation that has involved the removal of the coal fines from the river by hand. The coal fines have been placed in bulka bags and removed from the remote and rugged terrain using a helicopter.

The EPA has completed a total of 42 inspections, of the drainage line above the Wollangambe River and along the river itself. The EPA is satisfied with the progress of the rehabilitation of the drainage line and the re-growth of plants and rootstock.

The EPA has required the company to undertake a second cleaning of the section of the River where coal fines had accumulated. As of 2 May 2016 a total of 208 tonnes of coal fines had been removed by hand from the River. As the second clean-up continues the EPA has stressed to Clarence Colliery Pty Ltd of the need to progress with care, removing coal fines where this can be done without damaging the river environment.

 The National Parks and Wildlife Service has also commenced a prosecution against Clarence Colliery related to the incident. For the details of this prosecution see: www.environment.nsw.gov.au/newsroom

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

END

Contact: Public Affairs

Page last updated: 10 May 2016