NOWRA Chemical Manufacturers has been fined $100,000 in the Land and Environment Court over an acid spill.
The Land and Environment Court heard that Nowra Chemical Manufacturers Pty Ltd allowed 1700 litres of a sulphuric acid solution to escape from its premises in January last year.
The company admitted that during the early hours of the morning on January 19, 2007, 1700 litres of sulphuric acid solution leaked from an unbunded storage tank with a flange not suitable for storing sulphuric acid, located on the premises.
The court heard company employees hosed the acid down an on-site stormwater drain.
The acid solution mixed with tap water flowed to a nearby heavily vegetated stormwater easement.
The court found 5000 litres of the acid solution mixed with tap water were recovered from the easement.
The court found that the leak caused severe harm to common plant species within a 22-metre stretch of the stormwater easement.
The court also found there was the potential for greater harm, but this was ameliorated by the company’s prompt clean-up works.
It was noted the decision to store the acid in the unbunded tank represented a high level failure at the company.
The company has requested the fine go to the Southern Rivers Catchment Authority.
Director-general of the Department of Environment and Climate Change, Lisa Corbyn, said the decision sent a clear message that the community expected companies to work in a way that protects the environment.
“In this case, the company’s rapid response protected the downstream Triplarina Nature Reserve. The company spent $64,000 on works associated with the incident, Ms Corbyn said.
“The company has to fund the Southern Rivers Catchment Authority and through them, the Shoalhaven Riverwatch Landcare Group or other similar groups for the purposes of restoration and erosion control works on Shoalhaven River.”