The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has fined InfraBuild Wire $45,000 after a report required by the EPA found a significant number of defects at the Newcastle premises, where large volumes of hazardous and corrosive solutions like acids are used in the making of steel rods, wire and fencing products.
An EPA inspection of the premises in North Mayfield identified concerns regarding corrosion and the structural integrity of pipes, valves, tanks and bunds.
Following the inspection, InfraBuild Wire were required to complete an integrity investigation of the area. The subsequent investigation by a specialist engineer found many defects at the acid tank farm and effluent treatment plant.
EPA Manager Regulatory Operations David Gathercole said the solutions contained at the premises were harmful to both human health and the environment.
“It is critical for companies that hold hazardous materials to maintain their premises in a proper and efficient condition to prevent environmental harm,” Mr Gathercole said.
“Defects like leaking pumps and the deterioration of equipment including pipes, valves and tanks represent a potential risk and breach of licence conditions, which is unacceptable.”
InfraBuild Wire were fined for three offences which included using a loose section of plastic pipe to prop-up and support a valve carrying potentially polluting hazardous and corrosive liquids; a leak of corrosive liquid from a treatment tank pump causing corrosion acceleration of the adjacent pipe support; and a severe deterioration of an isolation valve handle.
The integrity investigation report included actions and timelines for fixing each defect and InfraBuild Wire has subsequently fixed the three defects for which they were fined.
Mr Gathercole said the fines were a deterrent to the company and other licenced companies dealing with hazardous materials.
“It is important to monitor and maintain equipment, both to protect our environment, the community and to avoid harsh penalties,” Mr Gathercole said.
Penalty notices are one of several tools the EPA can use to achieve environmental compliance including formal warnings, official cautions, licence conditions, notices and directions and prosecutions.