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EPA launches court action over Vales Point fish kill

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The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is proceeding with legal action in relation to a fish kill occurring near the Vales Point Power Station at Lake Macquarie.

The organisation recently kicked off a prosecution against Sunset Power International Pty Ltd, trading as Delta Electricity, in the Land and Environment Court.

Thousands of dead fish were found floating in the water in September 2022.

The EPA alleges Delta failed to maintain its chlorine dosing plant in a proper and efficient condition.

That resulted in a faulty valve, which caused a discharge of concentrated sodium hypochlorite into waters leading to Wyee Bay.

Chief executive Tony Chappel said the prosecution followed a comprehensive investigation using all available resources.

“Alongside the community, we expect Delta to meet high standards given the proximity of the Vales Point Power Station to Lake Macquarie,” he explained.

“Our investigation found Delta could have prevented the fish kill if it had adequate equipment and processes in place.

“We’re pleased Delta has since upgraded its systems and the water quality in the Lake has returned to normal levels.

“However, we’ll continue to ensure Delta acts in accordance with its environmental responsibilities to prevent future events and protect the environment in Lake Macquarie.

“We know this was a distressing event for the community.

“So, I’d like to thank them for their patience as we worked through the investigation.”

The EPA claims the incident is a breach of Delta’s environment protection licence and an offence against section 64 of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act), which carries penalties of up to $1 million.

Following the 2022 fish kill events, the EPA arranged for DPE Science, Economics and Insights to install a Smart Buoy data logger to monitor water quality in Lake Macquarie at Wyee Bay.

Live data is available on the website at https://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/working-together/community-engagement/updates-on-issues/mannering-park-lake-macquarie-fish-kills

The EPA issued Delta with a licence variation last year to maintain significantly-tightened emission standards for nitrogen oxides (NOx) from Vales Point.

Delta is also required to undertake a range of activities to protect the local environment, including to implement a seagrass monitoring program and a Coal Ash Repository water sampling plan.

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