Lismore City Council has been fined $15,000 by the NSW Environment Protection Authority after 7.22 million litres of stormwater from a waste facility was discharged into a local creek.
Following heavy rain in February 2020, 11 million litres of stormwater accumulated in a holding cell at the Wyrallah Road Waste Facility at East Lismore.
EPA A/Director Regional Operations North Brett Nudd said the EPA gave Lismore Council approval in March for a staged discharge of the water once it had been sampled and analysed, and the results provided to the EPA.
“In April, four weeks after the discharge, Council advised the EPA that an internal Council audit had revealed approximately 7.22 million litres had been discharged into Monaltrie Creek, a tributary of the Wilsons River, in breach of their Environment Protection Licence in place at the time.
“Limited Council sampling indicated the discharge was unlikely to have caused any significant environmental impact but because of the four week delay in reporting the discharge, the EPA was unable to conduct any sampling and analysis,” Mr Nudd said.
“The EPA considers that this incident was entirely preventable and had the very real potential to cause harm to the local environment, namely Monaltrie Creek and Wilsons River.”
Penalty notices are one of a number of tools the EPA can use to achieve environmental compliance including formal warnings, official cautions, licence conditions, notices and directions and prosecutions. In this instance the EPA issued a penalty notice. The notice recipient may pay the penalty notice, seek a review, or elect to have the matter determined by a court.