SEWERAGE SPILL: Map showing discharge point at Terranora in November, 2017.
SEWERAGE SPILL: Map showing discharge point at Terranora in November, 2017. Contributed

Council fined for Banora Point sewage spill

The NSW Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has fined Tweed Shire Council $15,000 after partially treated wastewater was released from the Banora Point Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Council failed to comply with the conditions of its environmental protection licence (EPL) after infrastructure and operational errors caused the overflow of about 20 megalitres of partially treated wastewater to be discharged to Terranora Creek between November 5 - 8, 2017.

"As soon as our staff became aware of this issue, they worked immediately to limit the release of effluent and implemented an emergency response,” council's engineering director David Oxenham said.

"The Council also undertook significant operational works to ensure that all subsequent effluent released was compliant with licence requirements.”

Mr Oxenham said council provided the EPA with an incident report and has implemented key findings to reduce the risks of a similar event in the future.

"We have made improvements to our mechanical and electrical controls at the site as well as delivered additional training to operational staff,” he said.

The incident report showed that operational errors had caused the overflow including a failure to identify that equipment was not operating, a failure to respond to alarms promptly, and a failure to correctly operate valves.

EPA Regional Director North Branch Adam Gilligan said any licensee who breaches their licence conditions should expect compliance action from the EPA.

"It is important for licensees to ensure the appropriate systems and training are in place and are followed to prevent incidents like this,” Mr Gilligan said.

"At sewage treatment plants, a failure to abide by licence conditions can result in serious pollution events.  

"It was fortunate that the environmental impacts on Terranora Creek were limited in this case.”

Council operates eight wastewater treatment plants across the shire, treating approximately 7800 million litres of wastewater each year.

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