Healthy Environment, Healthy Community, Healthy Business

Environment Protection Authority

Borg Panels Pty Ltd ordered to pay over $130,000 for polluting waters

Media release: 27 June 2016

Borg Panels Pty Ltd (Borg Panels) has been convicted and fined $58,500 and ordered to pay the NSW Environment Protection Authority’s (EPA’s) legal and investigation costs of $72,780 after pleading guilty to polluting waters

The EPA prosecuted Borg Panels under section 120 of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 after effluent from a sludge dam was discharged into a drainage channel from the company’s timber processing and manufacturing plant in Oberon in 2014.

Borg Panels pleaded guilty to the offence and judgment on penalty was handed down on 14 June 2016 in the Land and Environment Court.

As part of the penalty, the Court also ordered Borg Panels to publicise details of the offence in the Western Advocate and the Oberon Review.

EPA Director South Branch Gary Whytcross said the EPA inspected Borg Panels’ premises on 15 August 2014 after a complaint.

“EPA officers discovered a hose pumping waste out of an on-site sludge dam directly into a stormwater channel that flowed to a local tributary and into Kings Stockyard Creek,” he said.

“At the time of the inspection the waterways were black in colour and emanated a strong odour.”

Mr Whytcross said the liquid was pumped into the channel for approximately eight hours and contained a range of chemicals at toxic concentrations, including formaldehyde.

“This incident polluted three local waterways and put plants and aquatic animals at risk of harm.”

“In this case it is very fortunate that there has been no lasted damage to these streams.”

The company has since put in place measures to ensure a similar incident does not occur again including a new pump and hose, daily monitoring and an alarm system. 

“It’s important that companies have appropriate controls in place at all times to meet the requirements of their licence and protect the environment,” Mr Whytcross said.

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

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

Contact: EPA Public Affairs

Page last updated: 27 June 2016