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Environment Protection Authority

Hutchinson Builders fined $15,000 after poor controls led to water pollution

Media release: 29 May 2017

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has fined Hutchinson Builders $15,000 after inadequate erosion and sediment controls at the former South Grafton Sewage Treatment Plant construction site resulted in sediment flowing offsite into the stormwater system, which flows into the Clarence River.

EPA Manager Regional Operations North Coast Brett Nudd said erosion and sediment controls were not adequate at the time of the incident.

“EPA officers inspected the site in March during a heavy rain event and observed large volumes of turbid, sediment laden water leaving the site and entering the stormwater system,” Mr Nudd said.

“The EPA took water samples of the stormwater discharge. These samples confirmed high sediment levels within the stormwater flowing from the site. The samples showed no evidence that asbestos, which has been detected on the site in the past, was present in the stormwater.

“Rainfall events can be unpredictable, this is why it’s important that appropriate controls to prevent water pollution are in place at all times.”

Hutchinson Builders are contracted by Clarence Valley Council to undertake works associated with the remediation of the former South Grafton Sewage Treatment Plant and are responsible for the installation and maintenance of sedimentation and erosion controls on the site.

The EPA’s investigation revealed that an Erosion and Sediment Control Plan had been developed for the site in 2016, however it had not been fully implemented. The plan had also not been updated to reflect the significant change in landform at the site. 

Mr Nudd said the company is responsible for ensuring that sediment and erosion controls are kept up to date and that they reflect best practice standards and actual site conditions.

“Good sediment and erosion controls are important to ensure that the environment and community are protected. Sediment laden waters can have a major impact on local waterways and on aquatic organisms.”

In response to the incident, the EPA also issued a Prevention Notice to Clarence Valley Council and Hutchinson Builders requiring them to submit an updated Erosion and Sediment Control plan and to install the updated controls by 29 March 2017.

The Notice was complied with and the EPA’s subsequent inspections of the site confirm that appropriate controls are in place.

The EPA will continue to closely monitor the remediation and redevelopment of the former South Grafton Sewage Treatment Plant by Clarence Valley Council.

Contact: EPA Public Affairs

Page last updated: 29 May 2017