Thursday, May 30, 2024

Ampol slugged $700k for Sutherland diesel spill

Ampol has been ordered to pay $700,000 towards four community projects in the Sutherland Shire after the company spilt more than 9,000 litres of diesel into floodwaters from its Kurnell fuel transfer terminal in April last year.

In a statement today, the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) said the incident occurred after an onsite wastewater treatment plant became inundated during heavy rain and oily water flowed into yards, streets and important wetlands in the Kurnell area, impacting local residents and the environment.

It says oily floodwaters spilled onto Captain Cook Drive and surrounding streets, Marton Park Wetland, adjoining creeks and mangroves at Quibray Bay, residences and public spaces including the Kurnell Girl Guides Hall.

Following the spill, residents reported symptoms of headaches, nausea and eye and throat irritation, while two Dusky Moorhen birds were found covered in an oily substance and subsequently died.

An EPA officer takes a sample from an affected Kurnell waterway.

The EPA’s legally binding Enforceable Undertaking requires Ampol to fund projects to deliver benefits to the environment and local community, including:

  • $180,000 to Landcare to deliver an educational Streamwatch program across more than 20 schools in the Kurnell area;
  • $150,000 to National Parks and Wildlife Service to regenerate Kamay Botany Bay National Park through the removal of invasive weeds and the restoration of native species;
  • $370,000 to Sutherland Shire Council to build a new children’s playground and outdoor gym at Marton Park;

EPA Director Operations, Adam Gilligan said the Enforceable Undertaking holds Ampol to account for the incident.

“This spill had a significant impact not only on the sensitive local environment, but on private properties and key community assets as well,” Mr Gilligan said.

“Ampol should have had better processes in place to make sure that wastewater from its treatment plant could not escape, even in extreme weather.

“Extreme weather events already significantly impact communities, without the added impacts of land and water pollution.

“We required Ampol to conduct clean-up measures, and now these funds will make sure the local community and environment is enhanced as well,” he said.

The incident constituted three alleged breaches of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 by polluting land and water, and Ampol failing to immediately notify the relevant authorities of the pollution, the Authority said.

Ampol has also agreed to pay the EPA’s legal and investigative costs of $86,667.51.

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