Lithgow City Council has entered into an Enforceable Undertaking with the NSW branch of the EPA after an incident which saw 13,000 litres of highly corrosive material escape a sewage plant.
The incident occurred on 28 August 2019, during which a storage tank fitting failed at the Wallerawang Sewage Treatment Plant. The escaped material was caustic soda, which spilled into an embankment and then escaped into a nearby watercourse and land.
The event was not reported to the EPA, nor was a Pollution Incident Response Management Plan implemented.
Several breaches resulted from the incident, including pollution of waters, land pollution and breaches of Council’s environment protection licence.
The Enforceable Undertaking means that the council will need to spend in excess of $400,000 to improve their environmental performance, including training and staff. They are also required to contribute $100,000 to provide improvements to the local environment and community.
The council is also required to pay the EPA’s legal fees, in addition to costs accumulated during the investigation of the incident.
The council must also publish the details of the EU in local newspapers and on their own website.
EPA Director Regional South Operations Cate Woods remarked that the financial undertaking was substantial and would be well utilised in the local community.
“This outcome commits Lithgow City Council to make improvements to their environmental performance as well as driving environmental benefits for the community.”