EPA fines Liddell over exceeding emissions in the Hunter

AGL has been fined after one of their power station’s in the Hunter Valley allegedly exceeded its permitted emissions.

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) fined the electricity generator after solid particle monitoring detected emissions were released when they should have been trapped by specialised equipment at the Liddell Power Station in Muswellbrook.

EPA Director Regulatory Operations David Gathercole said AGL Macquarie notified the EPA about the problem.

“Managing emissions from large operations such as Liddell Power Station is a key issue of concern to the community and to the EPA. Any non-compliance is a serious matter,” David Gathercole said.

The EPA said the exceedances were allegedly caused by a small number of failures of bags in the baghouse, which are designed to filter out very small solid particles and those failures were not detected by the continuous monitoring system.

The EPA has issued AGL with a $15,000 Penalty Notice for allegedly contravening its Environment Protection Licence under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 – it’s the largest fine the EPA can issue.

“These were the second exceedances in the current reporting period, but AGL Macquarie has implemented a number of actions aimed at ensuring future emissions are within licence limits,” David Gathercole said.

“The bags that failed have been replaced and AGL Macquarie AGLM is working with its filter bag supplier to identify any further opportunities to help maintain bag integrity.”

The EPA is continuing to regulate all power stations to ensure their emissions are minimised.

An AGL spokesperson said they “reported the incident to the EPA and has since made repairs and modified operations to address the cause.”

“As Australia’s largest energy generator and greenhouse gas emitter, we understand and acknowledge our environmental obligations, and work cooperatively with all regulatory agencies to ensure we meet our requirements and engage with the communities where we operate.”

“We are committed to the Hunter region and continue to progress our plans to transform our thermal generation sites into low-carbon integrated industrial energy hubs that will support the decarbonisation of Australian industry, with work already underway on the Hunter Hub.”

People can report concerns regarding air pollution to the EPA on 131 555. All complaints made to the Environment Line are being directed to the EPA officers in the field so they can target those areas of most concern to the community.

Image credit: WIkiCommons