EPA tackles transport firms over waste handling

NSW authority objects to non-compliance of transport and reception of contaminated ballast and liquid waste

EPA tackles transport firms over waste handling
Pacific National and Rhomberg Rail reacted quickly over wrong sort of ballast in the wrong place


The New South Wales Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has been busy with penalty notices and cautions sent to transport firms big and less so this week.

On the big side, Pacific National was issued a penalty notice and Rhomberg Rail an official caution for breaching environmental laws at Port Kembla.

According to the EPA, Pacific National was issued a penalty notice after it gave direction to Rhomberg Rail to transport waste from its Old Port Road premises to a nearby site not legally approved to receive waste.

"The incident, which occurred on 4 February, involved Rhomberg Rail transporting a small amount of railway ballast waste contaminated with hydrocarbons from Pacific National’s Port Kembla locomotive site to a neighbouring property," EPA Illawarra Manager Peter Bloem says.

"Following the incident, Pacific National and Rhomberg Rail responded promptly, stockpiling and containing the waste, to minimise the impact on the environment.

"The EPA issued a clean-up notice for Pacific National to cease transportation and remove the waste from the unapproved site and a further notice for additional information as part of the investigation. These requirements were fully complied with.

"Following the investigation it has been determined that Rhomberg Rail undertook this work at the direction of Pacific National, and this direction is a breach the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act).

"The Act clearly states that it is an offence for an owner of waste to cause or permit a person to transport that waste to a place that cannot lawfully be used as a waste facility and as a result of their actions the EPA has issued the Penalty Infringement Notice to Pacific National."

On the smaller side, penalty notices to Naracor for transporting waste to an unlawful waste facility and to Namoi WasteCorp for receiving that waste when it was not licensed to do so were also issued.

EPA North Branch Director Gary Davey says that the EPA had received a complaint regarding the storage and management of waste on the Namoi WasteCorp company site in Narrabri.

"Our investigations revealed that between 4 -11 February this year, the waste transport company Naracor had transported a large volume of liquid waste from a coal mine to the Namoi WasteCorp site," Davey adds.

"Namoi WasteCorp is not licensed to receive this volume of liquid waste at this site in Narrabri.

"Fortunately, there were no environmental consequences in this case. However, there was the potential for environmental harm. Companies involved in the transport and storage of waste must be licensed to do so as this ensures that adequate environmental controls are in place."

Penalty notices are just one of a number of tools the EPA can use to achieve environmental compliance, including formal warnings, licence conditions, notices and directions, mandatory audits, enforceable undertakings, legally binding pollution reduction programs and prosecutions, the authority says.

The EPA must also take a range of factors into account before delivering a proportionate regulatory response, including the degree of environmental harm, whether or not there are any real or potential health impacts, if the action of the offender was deliberate, compliance history, public interest and best environmental outcomes.

For more information about the EPA’s regulatory tools, see the EPA Compliance Policy.

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