Wingecarribee Shire Council has today accepted the penalty handed down by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) following a chemical spill at its Robertson Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) in late January.
An estimated 3,700 litres of caustic soda, which is used in the treatment of sewage, escaped from an onsite storage tank at the treatment plant on January 27 2016.
At the time of the incident, Council immediately notified the relevant agencies, including the EPA, Water NSW, SafeWork NSW and NSW Fire and Rescue before instigating an investigation into the incident.
“First and foremost Council wishes to apologise to the Robertson community and adjacent neighbours of the STP for the overflow,” said Council’s Deputy General Manager Operations, Finance and Risk, Mr Barry Paull.
“We know in this instance we failed in our responsibilities and regardless of the minimal risks posed to public health or the environment, it was an unacceptable incident to have occurred.”
A rapid response by council staff ensured that all chemical was contained on adjoining Council land and the comprehensive and immediate clean-up ensured no chemical entered any water bodies. Council has continued to conduct regular soil testing with no detrimental effect to the environment identified.
Following a full review of the incident a number of remedial actions have been identified and will be carried out as part of a detailed action plan. Many of these actions have already been completed or are well advanced.
As a result of the breach of license conditions a penalty notice of $15,000 was issued to Council.
“While Council accepts the EPA’s decision, it’s important to emphasise that at no time was there any risk to residents or the environment,” Mr Paull said.
Wingecarribee Shire Council would like to thank NSW Fire and Rescue who worked with Council staff to capture, contain, dilute and remove the spilt chemical.
The sewage treatment plant continues to operate without interruption.