In the recent decision Environment Protection Authority v Dyno Nobel Asia Pacific Pty Ltd  NSWLEC 64, Dyno Nobel Asia Pacific Pty Ltd (Dyno Nobel) was convicted of two offences under the Protection of Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act).
The first offence was for polluting waters (s 120(1) POECO Act) and the second offence was for breaching its Environment Protection Licence conditions (s 64(1) POEO Act).
These offences arose out of a pollution incident in 2015. Work on Dyno Nobel’s on-site collection dams for wastewater caused wastewater to flow into neighbouring property. A misplaced pipe and a valve failure resulted in the toxic wastewater flowing onto a neighbouring farm where it waterlogged a paddock, killed livestock and stopped 200m short from the major waterway.
The neighbouring farmer noticed that his paddock was a murky green colour, the paddock was soaked and five of his cattle were dead. The carcases of the cattle had puffed up and foam could be seen around their mouths and noses.
Dyno Nobel did not have any systems in place or alarms to notify staff of the dangerous discharge.
Conviction and Penalty
Dyno Nobel entered pleas of guilty and were convicted for both offences. The Court imposed the following penalties:
- $400,000 fine for the polluting waters offence, and
- $60,000 fine for the breach of licence conditions.
Dyno Nobel was also required to pay the Prosecutor’s costs of $72,000 and investigation costs of $750.
The incident was considered to be a significant pollution incident. Dyno Nobel accepted responsibility at the earliest possible opportunity, co-operated with the EPA, remediated the impacted land and compensated the neighbouring land owner. It is important for licensed premises to have systems in place to warn or alert staff when potential pollution incidents.
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