Orica Australia Pty Limited pleaded guilty to four counts of breaching the Qld Environmental Protection Act 1994 as a result of unauthorised stormwater and effluent releases from its Yarwun facility near Gladstone, Qld, between February 2010 and February 2012.
Orica has been ordered to help fund turtle research, conservation and water monitoring initiatives in Gladstone Harbour following a decision handed down in the Gladstone Magistrate’s Court.
This is the first time that a public benefit order has been awarded in Queensland under section 502 of the Environmental Protection Act: an amendment to allow a proportion of a penalty to be directed towards environmental works.
The Court has ordered the Company to pay a fine of $432,000. Orica was also ordered to pay $53,101.09 in legal and investigation costs.
There was no evidence of any environmental damage as a result of the discharges. No conviction has been recorded.
In response to the incidents, Orica consented to a Court order for the undertaking of a comprehensive independent audit of the Yarwun site and has committed $30 million of investment to upgrade the facility. This includes eight specific initiatives to improve stormwater management and environmental compliance at the site with the majority of works to be completed in November 2012.
This program includes:
· upgrades to stormwater retention systems;
· installation of perimeter berms, bunds and drains to improve stormwater management; and
· improved surface management and sealing.
$250,000 of the fine to be paid by Orica will be directed to three community-based environment groups.
By agreement between the parties the Court has determined that $100,000 of the total fine will be allocated to green turtle research at Port Curtis, $90,000 for Australian Conservation Volunteers and $60,000 for the Gladstone Healthy Harbour Partnership to assist with the groups ongoing environmental works.