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Former Truegain owner slapped with $1.2m penalty

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The owner of the former Truegain site has been slugged more than $1.2 million for costs incurred by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to clean up contamination at the Rutherford property.

The Land and Environment Court found in favour of the EPA in debt recovery proceedings following successful legal action brought by the environmental regulator against Robert Pullinger.

EPA chief executive officer Tracy Mackey said the court’s decision showed polluters would be held accountable.

“This is a significant result,” she stated.

“It sends a message that if you pollute you will be pursued and made to pay.

“I want to assure the community the EPA will continue to use all means at our disposal to pursue this owner and hold him accountable.

“We have other prosecutions against Mr Pullinger, which are still before the court.”

The Truegain site was formerly the premises of a waste oil processing company.

The EPA has been funding stormwater and wastewater clean-up and management at the location to keep the community and environment safe. 

Mr Pullinger is now required to pay clean-up costs of $1,178,940 incurred by the EPA, plus interest and the EPA’s legal costs.

He was convicted and fined earlier this year for providing false information to the EPA and failing to comply with statutory notices to provide information.

Significant regulatory action has previously been taken against Truegain, with the EPA issuing 18 penalty notices and successfully prosecuting the company twice in the Land and Environment Court.

The EPA suspended Truegain’s environment protection licence in 2016 and revoked it altogether in 2018.

The company has since gone into liquidation.

The EPA is monitoring the site through inspections and CCTV to ensure the highest protection of the environment and the local community is maintained.

A surface water interception, storage and disposal system has been installed on the site to reduce the risk of any discharge.

The system has been pumped out prior to, and after, heavy rainfall, as required.

The NSW Government is progressing a long-term environmental solution for the Truegain site.

It has also introduced legislation to help prevent similar circumstances from happening again. 

In the last sitting of parliament, the NSW Government introduced legislative changes to strengthen the EPA’s powers. 

If passed, the laws will help ensure there will not be another Truegain and help prevent innocent landowners or the government footing the bill for clean-up costs of contaminated land and illegal dumping.

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