EPA regional manager Simon Smith said Whitehaven subsidiary Tarrawonga was issued the penalty notice when a review of the company’s 2013-14 annual return in October showed that the company had breached its annual limit for coal production.
“There is a strict condition on the company’s EPL that limits coal production to 2 million tonnes per year,” Smith said.
“Tarrawonga’s annual return showed that the total production for the 2013-14 reporting year was 2,136,045 tonnes – well above the licence limit.
“The EPA investigated the breach and while we are not aware of any environmental impacts as a result of this increased production, any operator who breaches the conditions of their environment protection licence is a concern to the EPA.
“Licence conditions are put in place for an important reason – to ensure the activities of industry, including coal mining, do not adversely impact on the health of the community and the environment.”
Penalty notices are just one of a number of tools the EPA can use to achieve environmental compliance. Others include formal warnings, additional licence conditions, notices and directions, mandatory audits, enforceable undertakings, legally binding pollution reduction programs and prosecutions.
“EPA officers will continue to monitor activities at the site to ensure staff are operating in accordance with their licence. Further regulatory action may be considered if future breaches occur,” Smith said.