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Environment Protection Authority

EPA monitoring dredge clean-up at Ballina Boat Harbour

Media release: 6 July 2016

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is closely monitoring the NSW Department of Primary Industries – Land’s (DPI Land) clean-up, following a pollution incident at the Ballina Boat Harbour in June.

The EPA commenced an investigation after receiving a report through Environment Line on Sunday June 19, 2016 that approximately 1000 cubic metres of dredged silt had discharged from a ruptured “Geobag” at the Boat Harbour site, and flowed across adjacent parkland, with some of the silt reaching the Richmond Estuary.

A geotextile bag or “Geobag” is a purpose-made, woven fabric bag that is used in dredging activities to contain and dry out sediment. Once dried, the sediments are typically disposed of at a landfill facility. 

The dredged sediment from the Ballina Boat Harbour, is known to contain potential Acid Sulphate Soil, which until the incident had been contained within “Geobags”.

EPA officers carried out a site inspection on June 20, taking samples of the silt and assessing the affected areas which included; grassed parkland, Casuarina forest, Mangrove forest, intertidal mud flats and a section of the Richmond River.

During the inspection the EPA directed DPI Lands to commence the clean-up of the dredged material without delay in order to control the immediate and potential environmental impacts.

The EPA followed this direction up with an official Clean-Up Notice which was issued to DPI Lands on June 22. The notice included directions to clean up the silt, install pollution and erosion controls, conduct ecological monitoring to determine any long term impacts and consult with relevant state government departments to ensure the safe, effective and timely clean-up of the affected areas.   

The EPA carried out a follow-up inspection on June 28 and confirmed that further actions are required by DPI Lands to clean up the affected area, upgrade the environmental controls and conduct ongoing environmental monitoring around the site.

At this stage the EPA is not aware of any long term environmental impacts as a result of the discharge of dredged material but officers will continue to monitor the clean-up.

A copy of the Clean-Up Notice is available on the EPA’s Public Register.

Anyone with a concern about pollution, or information relating to the incident which they believe would be useful to the investigation is encouraged to contact the EPA’s Environment Line on 131 555.

ENDS 

Contact: Public Affairs

Page last updated: 06 July 2016