Healthy Environment, Healthy Community, Healthy Business

Environment Protection Authority

Minto foam company fined $15,000 for failing to report emissions

Media release: 11 October 2016

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has fined Foamco Industries $15,000 for failing to report emissions 12 times over the limit for toluene diisocyanate (TDI) allowed on its Environment Protection Licence. This follows an official caution issued by the EPA to Foamco in 2015 for incorrect reporting of Load Based Licensing data in its 2014/2015 annual return.

Foamco, based at Minto, uses TDI in the manufacture of polyurethane foam for bedding and furniture. The process can release volatile organic compounds, including TDI, into the air which Foamco must monitor, control and report.

EPA Manager for the Illawarra region Peter Bloem said that high levels of emissions can impact on human health.

“It is important to control TDI emissions as there can be effects on the respiratory and nervous system if it is breathed into the body,” he said.

Mr Bloem said that while there was no evidence of any harm to the environment or the community in this instance, it was important that companies comply with the EPA’s strict limits.

“Foamco should have declared that their October 2015 TDI levels were over the limit when they reported their data for the year. All Licensees have a responsibility to notify us when a breach has occurred so the EPA can investigate and take appropriate action.”

“We’ll scrutinise Foamco’s next annual return (2016/17) closely to ensure they are compliant with their responsibilities.”

In recent years the EPA has been working with foam manufacturers in the Sydney area, including Foamco, to reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds which contribute to smog. This program has had positive results.

“By taking actions like increasing the use of carbon dioxide during production, Foamco have, overall, reduced volatile organic compounds emitted to the air by about one third in the last five years,” Mr Bloem said.

Penalty Notices and Official Cautions are one of a number of tools the EPA can use to achieve environmental compliance including formal warnings, licence conditions, notices and directions and prosecutions.

The EPA takes a range of factors into account before delivering a 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.

Contact: EPA Public Affairs

Page last updated: 11 October 2016