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18 Sep

Compliance inspections reveal shortcomings in Hunter industrial practices across the Hunter region

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More than 100 Hunter industrial premises, including mine sites, were inspected last financial year resulting in a raft of prosecutions, fines and cautions.
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TheDepartment of Planning and Environment’s compliance team conducted104 inspections, successfully prosecuted two companies, issued six penalty notices and gave eight official cautions in the Hunter region.

Fifteen thousand dollar fines were issued to:

Huon Aquaculture –failing to maintain sea pens at the Marine Finfish Research LeaseStratford Coal – breaching train dispatch after hours.Macka’s Sand Quarry – Three penalties including exceeded extraction depth, failing to provide notification of incident at the time and truck movement breaches.Seaside Boulevard Fern Bay. Sediment controls breach.Jandra Quarry – Air quality monitoring breach.The failure of Huon Aquaculture’s“fortresspen” resulted in 20,000 kingfish escapeing intothe Port Stephens’marine park in January.

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Calls for independent review of Port Stephens’ fish farmThe fish, which were used to being automatically, created an ecological risk to marine park.At the same timecommercial and recreational fishers reported bumper catches over several weeks.

Poor maintenance of the sea pens and the attached predator nets and a build-up of barnacles and algae on the sea pens were identified as significant contributors to the incident.

Great escape: The “fortress pen” that was damaged in rough seas on January 19. About 20,000 kingfish escaped in the Port Stephens marine park.

The company has undertaken measures to reduce the likelihood of a similar event occurring in the future.

The department’s compliance team conducts spot checks without warning, regular inspections and auditsand works with companies to ensure they are sticking to the rules.

“We can issue the highest on-the-spot fines in the country for breaches of conditions with the most severe fines attracting up to $5 million,” he said.

“We are here to investigate complaints from the public, local councils and other state government agencies but also build effective partnerships with industry.”

Department of Planning and Environment director for compliance Ben Harrisonsaid the compliance team had expanded from seven to more than 30over the past four years to cater for the rapid growth in development across the state and to ensure existing operations were adequately monitored.

“We’ve boosted our investment and put more boots on the ground in managing compliance and delivering education to assist industry to ensure they are doing the right thing.

“Thanks to our larger team we are now able to better service NSW, including the Hunter in a strong and proactive way.”

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