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NSW Planning and Environment Department hit with $200,00 for polluting waterway at Perisher ski resort

NSW Planning and Environment Department hit with $200,00 for polluting waterway at Perisher ski resort
December 16, 2019

The NSW Government’s Department of Planning, Industry and Environment has been convicted for polluting a waterway that runs through the Perisher ski resort in the Snowy Mountains.

The Department has been fined a total of $213,250 after releasing chemicals into Perisher Creek in the Kosciusko National Park, the second time in two years it has been penalised for releasing chemicals into the creek from the NSW Government-operated sewage treatment plant.

As reported by ABC South East NSW, the plant, which services Perisher Valley, Smiggins Holes and Guthega, released 4.4 kilograms of aluminium into the waterway last April, according to a ruling last week by the NSW Land and Environment Court.

It caused aluminium levels to rise to a level known to cause toxicity to a range of aquatic organisms including crustaceans.

The NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) pleaded guilty and has been fined $165,250 for breaching its licence and $48,000 for the water pollution, after an excessive amount of chemical was added during processing.

Neither the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) or the environment department were made aware of the incident for two weeks, meaning the effect on the ecosystem was not measured, an EPA prosecutor said.

Associate Professor Ewan Silvester, of Latrobe University's Centre for Fresh Water Ecosystems, said aluminium could have a significant impact of aquatic organisms.

Dr Silvester advised "by coating the parts of the organism that take up oxygen from the water, such as gills with fish, it prevents aquatic organisms taking up oxygen.

"It shouldn't have happened, but the fact there's been compliance measures show the system is working."

In her findings, Justice Sandra Duggan said there were a number of measures which could have been taken - but were not - to prevent or mitigate environmental harm.

Last year, DPIE was fined $84,000 and ordered it to pay more than $100,000 in legal fees after it pleaded guilty to releasing elevated levels of nitrogen and ammonia into Perisher Creek.

Justice Duggan found the accident occurred during a period in which the plant was attended by just one employee.

Community water quality monitor and river keeper Acacia Rose said it was time to consider piping sewage out of the sensitive alpine area to be processed in Jindabyne.

Rose told the ABC “of course that would cost money but ultimately it's probably a better outcome for the alpine environment.”

Image: DPIE has been fined for a second time for polluting Perisher Creek. Supplied.

Related Articles

1st August 2019 - Perisher’s new Leichhardt chairlift gets official opening

26th March 2019 - Ballarat swimming academy fined $150,000 after student’s life changing diving injury

17th March 2018 - Fishermen fined $17,000 for taking endangered turtles and dugong from Queensland marine park

8th December 2017 - Perisher to invest $4.2 million in snowmaking and new chairlift

28th November 2017 - Warning over ‘ticking time bombs’ in handling and storing pool chemicals

6th October 2017 - PFAS chemicals in Katherine pool prompts closure

18th August 2017 - NSW council fined after pool faecal incident leads to chlorine flushing into creek

1st June 2017 - Snow falls prompt early season opening for Perisher

9th February 2017 - Parks Victoria fined for dumping dirty water

8th January 2017 - Environmental group challenges Perisher Village development

29th November 2016 - Perisher named Australia’s Best Ski Resort at 2016 World Ski Awards

14th June 2016 - NSW ski resort Perisher expands Leichhardt terrain park

10th January 2016 - Report shows Parks Victoria responsible for toxic chemicals in the Yarra River

6th July 2015 - Vail Resorts completes Perisher acquisition

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