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Environment Protection Authority

EPA revises licence for Clarence Colliery to protect Wollangambe River

Media release: 17 March 2017

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has imposed a legally binding Pollution Reduction Program on the environment protection licence for the Clarence Colliery, to improve water quality in the Wollangambe River.

The Pollution Reduction Program, which has been developed over the past year, sets stringent new limits for Clarence Colliery on 13 metals, including zinc and nickel, using ANZECC/ ARMCANZ (2000) water quality guidelines as a benchmark. Setting the limits to the national standards was recommended by the Office of Environment and Heritage following a comprehensive report prepared for the EPA on the condition of the Wollangambe River.

EPA Regional Director for South and West Gary Whytcross said the revised licence was a major step forward in improving the River’s health. 

“We have worked closely with local community groups, researchers and other agencies to bring about these important changes that will help protect the Wollangambe River for future generations,” Mr Whytcross said.

“The EPA is committed to improving the quality of Clarence Colliery’s water discharge so that it matches the sensitive ecology of the nearby Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. We will continue to talk with all of our partners as we monitor the recovery of the river.”

The EPA will also be issuing Clarence Colliery with another legally-binding Pollution Reduction Program in the coming months that will focus on reducing the salinity levels discharged into the river, Mr Whytcross said. The EPA has advised the company that it must keep salinity below 100 EC (electrical conductivity).

In May 2016, the EPA commenced a prosecution in the Land and Environment Court against Clarence Colliery, alleging a Tier 1 offence relating to the discharge of coal fines from the Clarence Colliery, near Lithgow in 2015. The case is next due in court from 8-10 May 2017.

Tier 1 offences are the most serious under the Protection of Environment Operations Act 1997 and come with a maximum penalty of $5,000,000 for a corporation.

Notes to Editors:

ANZECC is the Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality

ARMCANZ Agriculture and Resource Management Council of Australia and New Zealand

Contact: EPA Public Affairs

Page last updated: 20 March 2017