NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has fined AGL Macquarie Pty Ltd (AGL) $15,000 for alleged air pollution offences at its Liddell Power Station.
Particle pollution, most notably PM2.5, from the company's two Hunter Valley plants Liddell and neighbouring Bayswater have raised concerns from health experts for a number of years with calls for pollution filters to be installed that would bring the stations into line with worlds best standards
AGL has been fined for allegedly exceeding the licensed solid particles concentration limit for emissions from one of the Power Station's four boilers in August to September 2020. AGL's Environment Protection Licence sets specific limits for the emission of pollutants from the boiler units.
Along with the fine, the EPA has also issued AGL with an official caution for an exceedance on a separate one of the four boiler units around the same period.
Director Regulatory Operations Adam Gilligan said the EPA has required AGL to carry out rectification works to help prevent a similar incident in the future.
"This alleged outcome should serve as a reminder that environmental incidents such as these can come at a significant cost."
"Solid particle emission limits are set for good reason - to help prevent air pollution incidents and possible environmental damage," Mr Gilligan said.
"Our licensees have an obligation to comply with their licence conditions. Best practice and cleaner production leads to improved environmental outcomes."
"Air pollution leads to 2616 annual premature deaths in Australia, and significant chronic disease burden. We've been calling for our leaders and industries to control this pollution for many years now," said Singleton GP Bob Vickers, who has campaigned actively for more government intervention to reduce air pollution in our region.
"We can save lives and prevent disease by listening to experts and by implementing pollution control regulations and technologies that already exist. The people of NSW could be world leaders in addressing air pollution"
In response an AGL spokeswoman said in March 2021, AGL was issued with a penalty infringement notice and official caution by the NSW EPA for an alleged non-compliance with a condition of Liddell power station's Environment Protection Licence (EPL), following test results that indicated licence limit exceedances for solid particulates emissions in August and September 2020.
"AGL reported the incidents to the EPA and has since proactively made repairs and modified operations to rectify the cause," she said.
"AGL takes its environmental obligations seriously and works cooperatively with all regulatory agencies to ensure we meet all requirements and engage with the communities where we operate.
"AGL's decarbonisation strategy is clearly set out in its Climate Statement, including the commitment to net zero emissions by 2050 and the commitments to exit coal-fired power.
"After operating for 50 years, AGL is preparing for the closure of the Liddell power station in 2023."