THE EPA has fined Esso Australia nearly $6,000 for incorrect storage of liquid waste at its Barry Beach marine terminal.
EPA Gippsland regional manager Elizabeth Radcliffe said two officers inspected the terminal in April this year and found a number of large containers of drilling mud waste stored in an unbunded area.
“Other containers were also found in an area near an unprotected stormwater drain. One of the containers contained a dark brown liquid that employees were unable to identify,” said Ms Radcliffe.
The site is right on the edge of Corner Inlet Marine National Park.
Previous inspections had led EPA to be concerned that site activities posed a risk to the park and that inadequate measures were in place to respond to and contain a spill. The company has recently completed an audit required by EPA to assess the risk of a spill to stormwater.
“Any liquid waste the company has on site must be stored in an appropriate area,” said Ms Radcliffe.
“They were required to undertake the audit because we believe there is a real potential for an incident to occur. It was very disappointing that even though EPA had required the audit this did nothing to deter Esso from being careless with their waste and breaking the rules.
“Esso is a large multinational, multi-million dollar company that employs dedicated environmental officers and EPA expects the company to take heed of the recommendations of the recent audit and for these to be acted upon.”
She said Esso was fined $5,841 for breaching its licence and the containers were subsequently removed from the site and disposed of appropriately.
The company has 28 days to pay the fine, seek an internal review or have the matter dealt with in court.
An Esso spokesperson said that when the issue was identified back in April corrective action was immediately taken to either remove the containers from the site or transfer them to a bunded storage area on site.
She said Esso had completed a thorough investigation into the cause of the incident. “We are currently undertaking several actions to avoid this occurring again, including strengthening our procedures, additional training for employees and contractors and reviewing our internal auditing processes,” she said, adding that Esso had received the fine in September and was in the process of payment.
“We want to assure the local community that there was no spill of waste, nor was there an immediate risk to the Corner Inlet Marine Park. We remain committed to conducting our business in a manner that respects our local environment.”