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Proposed Amendments to Pollution Incident Reporting

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The Protection of the Environment Legislation Amendment Bill 2011 was passed by the Legislative Assembly on 13 October 2011.  Prompted by recent incidents at the Orica industrial complex at Kooragang Is

land, the Bill proposes a number of key changes in the reporting of pollution incidents, including:

  • Immediate notification rather than ‘as soon as practicable’ as per the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997.
  • Notification to an expanded list of government authorities including the Environment Protection Authority, the local authority, the Ministry of Health, the WorkCover Authority and Fire and Rescue NSW.
  • Immediate notification of information that later becomes known.

 

Penalties for failing to provide immediate notice of pollution incidents have doubled to $2,000,000 (for corporations) and $500,000 (for individuals).

In addition, the Bill proposes a duty on all holders of environment protection licenses, and certain other persons, to prepare and implement pollution incident response plans.  Such plans must be prepared within 6 months, tested in accordance with the regulations, and include procedures on incident reporting, response and communication.

Consider

The proposed amendments detailed in the Bill, together with a recent audit by the Office of Environment and Heritage of industries positing a high risk of environmental harm, highlight the importance of a robust Environmental Management System. 

Organisations with Environment Protection Licenses should consider the following:   

 

  • Pollution Incident Response Plans – Review your incident response plans to assess compliance with the Bill. 
  • Training – Provide employees with training or targeted communication to reinforce pollution incident response plans and reporting procedures.
  • Audit – Conduct an audit of pollution incident procedures to identify gaps and improvement opportunities. 

 

Clear Support

Clear Environment has extensive expertise in the development, implementation and audit of Environmental Management Systems and incident response plans.

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Styles Font size Format The Protection of the Environment Legislation Amendment Bill 2011 was passed by the Legislative Assembly on 13 October 2011.  Prompted by recent incidents at the Orica industrial complex at Kooragang Island, the Bill proposes a number of key changes in the reporting of pollution incidents, including:

Immediate notification rather than ‘as soon as practicable’ as per the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 .
Notification to an expanded list of government authorities including the Environment Protection Authority, the local authority, the Ministry of Health, the WorkCover Authority and Fire and Rescue NSW.
Immediate notification of information that later becomes known.

Penalties for failing to provide immediate notice of pollution incidents have doubled to $2,000,000 (for corporations) and $500,000 (for individuals).
In addition, the Bill proposes a duty on all holders of environment protection licenses, and certain other persons, to prepare and implement pollution incident response plans.  Such plans must be prepared within 6 months, tested in accordance with the regulations, and include procedures on incident reporting, response and communication.
Consider
The proposed amendments detailed in the Bill, together with a recent audit by the Office of Environment and Heritage of industries positing a high risk of environmental harm, highlight the importance of a robust Environmental Management System. 
Organisations with Environment Protection Licenses should consider the following:   
 

Pollution Incident Response Plans – Review your incident response plans to assess compliance with the Bill. 
Training – Provide employees with training or targeted communication to reinforce pollution incident response plans and reporting procedures.
Audit – Conduct an audit of pollution incident procedures to identify gaps and improvement opportunities. 

Clear Support
Clear Environment has extensive expertise in the development, implementation and audit of Environmental Management Systems and incident response plans.
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