Public safety concerns rise after NSW water pollution incidents

Date: Jan 22, 2016

As a state, NSW prides itself on clear waterways and environmental standards. However, due to a reliance on these systems, any pollution incidents could have a serious impact on public safety.

Of course, authorities also take a dim view on these occurrences to ensure that NSW remains a clean and safe environment for everyone. With this in mind, the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has recently announced the issue of two penalty notices to local businesses over multiple incidents in October last year.

Waste water entering public river

In the most serious incident, EPA was notified by another authority that there was a white-coloured discharge in a section of the Hunter River. EPA investigated the substance and discovered it was overflow waste water from the company's wheel wash.

As the waste water contained high nutrient concentrations, there were serious concerns for the overall water quality, aquatic life and public safety.

EPA Director North Gary Davey stated the company could have done more to prevent the discharge.

"The EPA believes the incident may have been avoided if the wheel wash had been fitted with standby pumps and an alarm to alert operators to any potential discharge," he said.

Peppertree Quarry water pollution

In a separate case, EPA issued a $15,000 penalty notice to another NSW business which inadvertently polluted the local environment. The company in question noticed that its fine aggregate stockpile had dropped and believed it had moved into the Tangarang Creek during heavy rain.

Taking the correct action, the business cited this event to the EPA, which investigated the incident in great detail.

EPA South East Region Manager Nigel Sargent explained this enterprise broke its regulations under the Environment Protection Licence.

"The EPA does not believe there was any long term environmental harm, but the increased turbidity and sediment load from the incident has the potential to smother aquatic organisms and their habitat," he noted.

"[The company] took immediate clean-up actions after the incident and is currently completing longer term environmental rehabilitation such as bank stabilisation in Tangarang Creek."

Environmental protection and public liability claims

When business processes interact with the environment, it is vital that they maintain high standards and ensure the safety and wellbeing of the vicinity's natural flora and fauna. However, it is just as critical to consider the human impacts.

Whether this is through eating contaminated food from a river or drinking polluted water, these companies could find themselves facing public liability claims.

If you have been injured or got sick as a result of pollution, you could be eligible for compensation. For more information, contact the expert team of lawyers at Gerard Malouf Partners today.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts, or email your enquiry.