Healthy Environment, Healthy Community, Healthy Business

Environment Protection Authority

Wambo Coal fined $60,000 for offensive odour from blast

Media release: 30 September 2016

Mining company Wambo Coal Pty Ltd has been convicted and fined $60,000 and ordered to pay the NSW Environment Protection Authority’s (EPA) legal costs after pleading guilty in the Land and Environment Court to emitting an offensive odour from its coal mine near Singleton.

The offence occurred in May 2014 when a routine blast at the mine generated a plume of sulphurous-smelling gas which was blown off the premises and across a number of neighbouring houses.

EPA Regional Director North, Adam Gilligan welcomed the court’s ruling as a good result for the environment and the local community.

“This outcome is a strong warning to the mining industry of the regulatory action they could face when they fail to take proactive steps before, during and after a blast to minimise impacts on the environment and local communities.”

“A number of local residents were caught unawares and were exposed to the gas, experiencing short-term eye, nose and throat irritation as a result,” Mr Gilligan said.

“The impacts could have been avoided if the mine had had better weather monitoring technology in place and had taken proactive steps to advise nearby residents as soon as the plume of gas began to blow off the premises.”

All industry operators, including coal mines like Wambo, have a responsibility to comply with environmental laws and ensure they are actively working to reduce impacts and improve their environmental performance.

This was the EPA’s second prosecution of Wambo for emitting an offensive odour from its mine. The company was convicted of a similar incident by Singleton Local Court in 2014.  On that occasion it was fined $13,000 and ordered to pay costs of $24,000.

The community can play an important role in helping the EPA to monitor industry compliance.  Anyone who has a concern about environmental impacts like odour, or knowledge of a particular incident is encouraged to contact the EPA’s 24-hour Environment Line on 131 555 to make a report so it can be investigated.

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Contact: Public Affairs

Page last updated: 30 September 2016