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Cessnock council cops $15,000 EPA fine for water pollution

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Cessnock City Council has been issued a $15,000 fine from the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) for leaking polluted water into the environment.

By failing to maintain a dam, the council inadvertently allowed access for contaminated water to be discharged into its surrounding area.

The filthy water was from the Cessnock Waste and Reuse Centre, and the action was deemed a breach of council’s EPA licence.

EPA director David Gathercole said council operates the dam to collect and treat dirty water at the premises.

“EPA officers observed contaminated water in the dam at a level that was far too high,” Mr Gathercole said.

“The equipment used to measure dam levels appeared to be installed incorrectly, giving a false indication that dam levels were lower.

“Officers also found that council had allegedly failed to physically check the water levels leading to contaminated water discharging through the dam spillway.

“These breaches run the risk of creating large-scale pollution events which can be destructive on both the environment and community.

“Every licence holder has a duty to understand its obligations and keep equipment in good condition.”

A $15,000 Penalty Infringement Notice (PIN) is the largest fine the EPA can issue under its legislation.

People can report concerns regarding water pollution incidents to the EPA on 131 555. Calls made to the Environment Line are directed to EPA officers in the field so they can target those areas of most concern to the community.

“Penalty notices are one of the tools the EPA uses to achieve the best environmental or human health outcomes,” Mr Gathercole said.

“Our regulatory approach includes a wide variety of options.”

Find out more about them at https://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/about-us/publications-and-reports/regulatory-strategy.

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