A NSW coal mine has been fined for polluting a nearby creek with wastewater containing detergent and effluent. The contamination has highlighted the need for the mining sector to take its environmental obligations seriously. Switching from toxic chemicals to environmental cleaning products is a simple step toward a greener industry.
The operators of the Austar Coal mine in NSW have been fined more than $115,000 over pollution which leaked from its site into a nearby creek in July 2010.
The company was convicted in the NSW Land and Environment Court on December 12, 2011.
It was ordered to pay $75,000 toward environmental rehabilitation of the contaminated site and $42,000 in legal costs.
The mine operates about 10km south-west of Cessnock in NSW’s Newcastle Coalfields. Wastewater containing detergent and effluent leaked into nearby Bellbird Creek, creating a toxic environment for aquatic life.
The mining sector has struggled against public perception that it is not environmentally-friendly. Liquid waste management can be more effectively tackled when eco-friendly industrial liquids are used instead of dangerous chemicals.
EPA chief environmental regulator Mark Gifford said the fine “reflected the need for companies such as Austar to take every precaution to ensure that pollution doesn’t occur”.
“The wastewater contained detergent and effluent from bathhouse facilities located on the Austar site and caused large clumps of white foam up to two metres high to be washed downstream,” he said.
“The elevated levels of detergent, nutrients and faecal matter along approximately 2km of Bellbird Creek were toxic to aquatic life.”
“This incident could have been prevented if Austar had an appropriate system in place to inspect, monitor and maintain the 90-year-old onsite septic system.”
Leading Australian environmental cleaning products supplier Envirosafe Solutions’ director Murray Simon said that there were alternative products available that reduced the risk of chemical pollution.
The Perth-based company has recently incorporated a greywater safety rating on its product labels.
“Choosing environmentally friendly liquids over more toxic chemicals is one really easy way to improve your environmental credentials and reduce your impact on our precious waterways,” Mr Simon said.
“None of our products contain any added sulphate or other cheap but unnecessary fillers.
“One example is our low-phosphate laundry-powder, which is still highly effective in hardwater conditions common at remote mining sites.
“Australian soils are mostly deficient in phosphorous so there are possible benefits from phosphorous in greywater discharge, but if this finds its water into waterways it can promote toxic algal blooms.”
For more information on reducing the risk of chemical pollution by switching to eco-friendly industrial liquids contact Envirosafe Solutions’ on 1300 88 90 70 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.