NSW EPA fines coal mine $30,000 for dirty water discharge

Lismore floods
Wollongong Coal fined $30,000 for discharging dirty water into Bellambi Gully last December.

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) announced on 15 July that it has fined Wollongong Coal $30,000 after the company’s Russel Vale coal mine discharged dirty water into Bellambi Gully last December.

This fine is one of several regulatory actions the EPA has taken in response to recent water-related incidents at the Russell Vale mine to help improve water management at the mine and protect Bellambi Gully from dirty water discharges.

The EPA Manager for the Illawarra region Peter Bloem said in a statement that the pollution of the creek in December had occurred when a faulty water sprinkler used for dust suppression and an unsealed inspection portal in a coal stockpile area allowed coal fines to be discharged from the premises into Bellambi Gully. The two fines – for pollution of waters and for inadequate maintenance of plant and equipment – total $30,000.

“This penalty notice is in addition to a clean-up direction that was issued by the EPA to Wollongong Coal immediately following the discharge incident,” Mr Bloem said in a statement. “Water management at this mine is critical given its sensitive location on the foothills of the Illawarra escarpment and its discharge through residential areas of Bellambi Gully to Bellambi Beach.”

The EPA has attached additional water quality and volume monitoring requirements to Wollongong Coal’s Environment protection licence so as to provide a greater level of information about water quality discharged from the coal mine to Bellambi Gully, particularly following rainfall. The collected information will help to show the current performance of the water management system and guide any future improvement works.


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