Healthy Environment, Healthy Community, Healthy Business

Environment Protection Authority

Clarence Colliery to answer to Land and Environment Court

Media release: 8 May 2017

The sentencing hearing of Clarence Colliery Pty Ltd commenced this morning in the Land and Environment Court.

Clarence Colliery is being prosecuted by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) for negligently causing the escape of more than two thousand tonnes of coal material from a storage area which resulted in coal fine slurry impacting the World Heritage listed Blue Mountains National Park. 

EPA Chair and CEO Barry Buffier said the spill in July 2015 resulted in more than two thousand tonnes of coal material impacting a 10 kilometre stretch of the Wollangambe River.

“Given the sensitivity of the Blue Mountains National Park and the sheer scale of the incident, the EPA chose to bring the most serious charge against Clarence Colliery.

“This offence carries a maximum fine of $2,000,000 for a corporation. In lieu of a fine it is open to the Court to penalise the company by ordering it to contribute money to projects that benefit the National Park, the Lithgow area and the community. This includes projects proposed by the EPA and with agreement from the community."

The incident, and subsequent clean-up was unprecedented in NSW and involved:
• The uncontrolled release of 421 tonnes of coal fines slurry and 1,910 tonnes of coarse reject material some of which made its way 10.3 kilometres down the iconic Wollangambe River and into the World Heritage Area.
• Took 51 weeks, and a total of 14,857 hours to clean up, with the first 5.35 kilometres of the river needing cleaning twice. 
• Well over 600 helicopter trips were required to haul 214 tonnes of coal materials from the River as part of the clean-up.
• A total of 44 inspections were undertaken by the EPA.

Following the incident, the EPA issued a notice to Clarence Colliery requiring them to cease all activities and make the area safe to contain further pollution. They were also required to cease any transfer of coal fines and divert the material to an alternative facility until the site was operational. These requirements remain in place.

A second charge is bought by Office of Environment and Heritage for damage to the Blue Mountains National Park. Clarence Colliery has already pleaded guilty to charges brought by the EPA and Office of Environment and Heritage in relation to the incident.


Contact: Public Affairs

Page last updated: 08 May 2017