“BHP has been caught out dumping overburden at elevated levels in windy conditions despite a warning not to,” Rush told ABC Rural Radio.
“No one in the community would accept that was a reasonable penalty for an offence of a condition designed to protect human health.”
Rush wants the New South Wales government to give coal mine approvals “teeth”. He also wants mine management to be held accountable.
“In my view, often one or two individuals are responsible for causing the corporation to breach these conditions and not those actually doing the dumping,” he told the radio network.
“Fines should be directed at individuals within a corporation who knowingly, or recklessly cause a corporation to breach environmental planning conditions.”
BHP is reportedly reviewing the dust management failure which occurred last month and has “introduced a temporary measure to increase responsiveness to high-wind conditions”.
The New South Wales’ planning department commented on the incident last week.
The mine was found to have breached air quality-related conditions of approval for the open cut operation after the planning department’s standalone compliance unit in Singleton followed up on a tipoff from the Muswellbrook Shire Council.