4 April, 2012

Bluescope pollution report raises more questions than it answers

Bluescope Steel’s latest report to the state’s pollution regulator reveals that the company breached its pollution licence once every two weeks, but omits important information about the scale and impact of these leaks, according to the Nature Conservation Council of NSW.

In its most recent annual return to the NSW Environment Protection Authority, the company’s Port Kembla steelworks self-reported 25 breaches of its pollution licence, averaging nearly one breach every fortnight. [1]

“The EPA’s public register reveals unlawful releases of cyanide, lead and ammonia at the plant, but provides no information about the volume, destination or environmental impact of the leaks,” said Pepe Clarke, Chief Executive Officer of the Nature Conservation Council of NSW.

“In two cases, the company reported water pollution violations, but the EPA register fails to even identify which pollutants were involved. This is an extraordinary departure from standard practice, and a clear failure of the reporting system.

“The information published by the EPA raises more questions than it answers. How much lead was released unlawfully from the plant? Did the cyanide end up in the air or water? What were the unidentified pollutants released illegally into the water?

“The community has a right to know the answers to these questions.
“Bluescope Steel is our state’s largest polluter, responsible for releasing tens of millions of kilograms of pollution into our air and water every year.
“It is totally unacceptable for the EPA to publish such scant information about pollution breaches at any polluting facility, let alone the state’s largest steelworks.”

“The EPA must review the information recently published on its public register to ensure that the community is able to access meaningful information about industrial pollution breaches and the risk
that these breaches pose to public health and the environment,” said Mr Clarke.

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Pollution and waste

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