Quarry fined for failed erosion controls

The NSW EPA issued Leadshine Pty Limited, owners of the Broken Head Quarry, near Byron Bay, with a fine of $15,000 for ongoing poor erosion and sediment controls at the site.

The offence occurred despite the EPA previously issuing separate orders to Broken Head Quarry in July and December 2016 to review and improve its erosion and sediment controls to prevent impact on the surrounding environment.

In a Pollution Incident Response Management Plan (PIRMP) viewable on the Broken Head Quarry website, and dated 16 April, 2016, the business even recognised that potential pollution hazards within the quarry could include surface water sedimentation ponds and silt settling ponds.

However, management was confident that 8-megalitre (ML) holding dams on the quarry’s west side would catch all storm water run-off before it was diverted to a processing dam. Were the holding dams to be tested, excess water would be discharged through the plant to the east side silt pond. The water would be treated with flocculants and then released to a 20ML dam on the east side, where it would drain off towards the east, in apparent compliance with NSW Department of Planning and NSW Office of Water regulations.

Silt from the wash process would be similarly pumped to silt ponds on the east side and, with excess surface water run-off, treated with flocculants.

‘Inadequate’ controls

Despite the PIRMP, EPA regional director Adam Gilligan said in a statement that frequent inspections at the quarry had shown Leadshine’s approach to erosion and sediment control to be “inadequate” and that the company’s responses to its pollution reduction program orders were insufficient.

“Erosion and sediment controls were poorly designed and constructed, and were not being properly maintained,” Gilligan said.

“There was evidence that inadequate capacity was being maintained in the sediment basins to capture sediment after rainfall and a significant failure of storm water diversion works had occurred.

“Leadshine’s environment protection licence requires that activities are carried out in a competent manner. Clearly this was not the case.”

Gilligan expressed his disappointment that Leadshine had failed to comply with the EPA’s requirements for improved controls at the site, despite consistent orders.

“The EPA has been working with Leadshine since 2016 in seeking to have the site’s sediment and erosion controls upgraded to acceptable standards,” he said. “However recent inspections confirmed that fundamental deficiencies in the controls remained.

“Sediment laden waters can have a major impact on local waterways. This shows a complete disregard for the environment, which will not be tolerated,” Gilligan said.

Broken Head Quarry has been active since 1999. It produces a variety of sand and gravel products, including concrete sand, asphalt and pebbles (in 7mm, 16mm and 25mm).

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