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Environment Protection Authority

Water pollution costs Seven Hills drum reconditioning company $15,000

Media release: 13 July 2017

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has fined Seven Hills company VIP Drum Reconditioners $15,000 after an on-site spill caused caustic soda to spill into Toongabbie Creek.

VIP Drum Reconditioners holds an environment protection licence to clean and recondition steel and plastic drums at their Power Road site. EPA officers attended the facility on 19 January after the company rang to notify the EPA of a spill incident. 

A greenish-silver liquid had spilled into a stormwater drain and was visible on the surface of Toongabbie Creek. After investigating the incident, the licensee and the EPA determined that the spill had occurred because a faulty valve had caused a wastewater containment tank to overflow. Laboratory tests showed the spill material was a mixture of chemical residues from the drum washing process including caustic soda, oil and grease.

The licensee had organised a sucker truck which was pumping the material out of the creek within hours of the incident occurring and, while the spilled substance was of a composition that was toxic to fish, there was no evidence of fish kills downstream.

VIP Drum Reconditioners undertook a number of other measures to clean-up the site, including transferring wastewater from the containment tanks to the on-site treatment plant to prevent further overflow, used absorbent material to clean up the driveway on the Premises and pumped the Premises’ stormwater system dry. Staff were also debriefed about the incident and were put through a refresher training course to ensure best practice was followed in case of any future spills.

EPA Director Waste Compliance Greg Sheehy said the $15,000 fine should act as a reminder to companies to ensure any chances of water pollution at their facilities were identified and rectified.

“While the company took a raft of steps to clean-up after the spill and minimise any harm, the fact remains that the spill occurred and put the environment at risk,” Mr Sheehy said.

“Like any incident, proper prevention is the best way to protect the environment, and the EPA will be monitoring VIP to ensure best practice is followed from now on.”

Penalty notices are one of a number of tools the EPA can use to achieve environmental compliance including formal warnings, official cautions, licence conditions, notices and directions and prosecutions. For more information about the EPA’s regulatory tools, see the EPA Compliance Policy at http://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/legislation/prosguid.htm


Contact: EPA Public Affairs

Page last updated: 13 July 2017