COMMUNITY projects in Muswellbrook and Singleton are set to benefit after AGL Macquarie was ordered to pay $100,000 for breaches at its Bayswater and Liddell power stations.
The company has entered into an Enforceable Undertaking with the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to contribute the money to local air quality and weed eradication initiatives following a violation of regulations around the management of coal ash.
In January 2019, AGL Macquarie self-reported it had used the wrong sampling methodology of coal ash at both Bayswater and Liddell, located between Muswellbrook and Singleton, after becoming aware it had not fully complied with sampling and analysis required under the EPA's Coal Ash Resource Recovery Order of 2014.
AGL will pay $82,000 to the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment to assist with the installation of air monitoring equipment in the Upper Hunter, which will contribute to the state-wide air quality monitoring network.
The company will also fund $18,000 to the Singleton Shire Landcare Network for use towards the Col Fisher Park Weed Eradication Project.
AGL Macquarie will also underwrite the EPA's investigation and legal costs of $37,356 and is required to undertake staff training, as well as place notices of the Enforceable Undertaking in local media.
NSW EPA director waste compliance Greg Sheehy said coal ash could contain high concentrations of heavy metals and other contaminants and needed to be handled in accordance with the Resource Recovery Orders to protect the community and the environment.
"AGL Macquarie self-reported that the sampling and analysis of their coal ash had not met the standards and frequency required under the EPA's Coal Ash Order of 2014," he explained.
"While in this instance it was assessed that there was no human health risk or concerns for the ecology or aquatic ecosystems, it is vital that companies follow proper processes when dealing with coal ash."
Enforceable Undertakings are one of a number of tools the EPA can use to achieve environmental compliance.
Through an Enforceable Undertaking, the organisation may secure outcomes such as environmental restoration measures or contributions to environmental projects.
The undertaking is enforceable by the Land and Environment Court.
For more information about the EPA's regulatory tools, see the EPA Compliance Policy http://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/legislation/prosguid.htm