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Australia: toxic dredging costs Soldiers Point Marina operator A$220,000

Environmental Issues // January 23, 2017

The operator of the Soldiers Point Marina in New South Wales in Australia will pay A$220,000 in fines and clean-up costs after the NSW Environment Protection Authority took action for illegal dredging which disturbed toxic sediment.

EPA Regional Director North, Adam Gilligan, said that the timeliness of a tip off to the EPA’s Environment Line by a member of the public was vital in catching out the Marina operator.

“Time is of the essence when it comes to water pollution incidents and when EPA officers arrived on site they were able to take samples of the water and sediments,” he said.

Following the investigation which began in May, the EPA issued Clippers Anchorage Pty Ltd with fines for two separate offences, a Clean-Up notice and an official caution.

  1. A$15,000 fine for pollution of waters: Clippers dumped dredged material onto their boat ramp which was observed spilling back into the Marina waters, part of the Port Stephens Marine Park. Water samples and dredged sediments had high concentrations of the compound tri-butyl-tin, a toxic anti-fouling paint chemical used on boats in Australia until it was banned 10 years ago.
  2. A$15,000 for contravening a licence condition: Clippers did not carry out their licensed activities in a competent manner by failing to have adequate controls to prevent pollution from the dredging.
  3. Clean-Up notice requiring Clippers to lawfully dispose of the sediment: The transport, pre-treatment and disposal of the waste at a specialised facility in Sydney is estimated to have cost Clippers A$190,000. The EPA have also issued an official caution in relation to the poor handling of the waste.

“The EPA has put Clippers on notice. They need to take immediate action to improve their environmental performance and we’ll be keeping a close eye on them to ensure they act responsibly,” Mr Gilligan said.

“Although we don’t believe that there has been any long-term environmental harm, it’s vital that companies have the appropriate controls in place to protect the community and the environment.”

Clippers have been previously fined by the EPA for environmental offences at the Soldiers Point Marina. In April 2014 the EPA fined Clippers $1,500 following a diesel spill. In May 2016, the EPA fined the company $15,000 for releasing pollutants into the Marina waters while undertaking maintenance on a large vessel.

The EPA encourages members of the community with knowledge of a pollution incident to contact the EPA’s 24 hour Environment Line on 131 555 and report the matter

Penalty notices, official cautions and prevention notices are a number of tools the EPA can use to protect the environment and achieve environmental compliance. The EPA takes in a range of factors into account to determine its regulatory response, including the degree of environmental harm, potential health impacts, compliance history, public interest and best environmental outcomes.

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