Saturday, April 13, 2024

Gas company fined $15k for Port Kembla harbour discharge


The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has fined Australian Industrial Energy Pty Ltd (AIE) $15,000 for allegedly discharging a plume of turbid water the size of a football field from its Port Kembla Gas Terminal into the Port Kembla Outer Harbour last September.

The discharge occurred during dredging works for a new energy terminal in the Port Kembla Inner Harbour which involved shifting 700,000 cubic metres of dredge spoil and other material into an emplacement area in the Outer Harbour.

In a statement, the EPA said that on 6 and 7 September 2023, AIE allegedly failed to operate its silt curtain properly resulting in a large visible sediment plume discharging from the operations. This resulted in a significant change in the colour of the ocean in the Outer Harbour, the environmental watchdog said.

EPA Executive Director Regulatory Operations, Jason Gordon said ensuring environmental control measures, such as silt curtains, are in place to prevent water pollution incidents should be standard practice for all dredging works.

“While we did not see a serious environmental impact on this occasion, despite it being a large plume, sediment discharge does have the potential to cause harm to the local aquatic ecosystem,” said Mr Gordon.

“Both the EPA and the community expect the environment, including the harbour, to be protected from the impacts of construction works.

“Ensuring the silt curtain is operating properly is crucial for reducing the potential for sediment movement outside the area of excavation.

“Licensees must comply with the requirements of their licence. We will take appropriate action where operations fail to maintain appropriate environmental controls.”

The EPA said AIE has now taken measures to prevent future occurrences and protect the Outer Harbour marine environment.

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