Energy giant AGL has been ordered to pay for local projects after breaching regulations in the Upper Hunter.
AGL Macquarie has entered into an Enforceable Undertaking with the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to contribute $100,000 to local air quality and weed eradication projects following a breach of regulations around the management of coal ash.
The NSW EPA says it comes after the company 12 months ago self-reported it had used the wrong sampling methodology of coal ash at its Bayswater and Liddell Power Stations after becoming aware that it had not fully complied with sampling and analysis required under the EPA’s Coal Ash Resource Recovery Order of 2014.
The undertaking includes AGL paying $82,000 to the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment to assist with the installation of air monitoring equipment in the Upper Hunter which will contribute to the statewide air quality monitoring network.
They will also contribute $18,000 to the Singleton Shire Landcare Network for use towards the Col Fisher Park Weed Eradication Project.
In addition AGL will also pay the EPA’s investigation and legal costs of $37,356 and is required to undertake staff training, as well as place notices of the Enforceable Undertaking in local media.
NSW EPA Director Waste Compliance Greg Sheehy said coal ash could contain high concentrations of heavy metals and other contaminants and needed to be handled in accordance with the Resource Recovery Orders to protect the community and the environment.
“AGL Macquarie self-reported that the sampling and analysis of their coal ash had not met the standards and frequency required under the EPA’s Coal Ash Order of 2014,” Greg Sheehy said.
“While in this instance it was assessed that there was no human health risk or concerns for the ecology or aquatic ecosystems, it is vital that companies follow proper processes when dealing with coal ash.”
Through an Enforceable Undertaking, the EPA may secure outcomes such as environmental restoration measures or contributions to environmental projects. The undertaking is enforceable by the Land and Environment Court.
For more information about the EPA’s regulatory tools, see the EPA Compliance Policy http://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/legislation/prosguid.htm.
Image credit: NSW EPA