On 20 December 2019, Boral Cement Limited was fined $15,000 by the New South Wales Environment Protection Authority (NSW EPA) after dust pollution from its cement operations impacted residents’ cars in the Southern Highlands community of New Berrima in June 2019.
EPA Manager for the Illawarra Region, Peter Bloem, said the pollution incident occurred following an equipment failure at the company’s Berrima plant.
“A bag house filter, which is designed to capture dust and other particulates before they enter the environment, malfunctioned and was not rectified for a number of days,” Mr Bloem detailed.
“This incident resulted in a number of local residents contacting the EPA and Boral between 23 June and 11 July 2019 to complain about cement dust on their cars.”
The EPA alleges this incident breached Boral’s Environment Protection Licence which requires the company to maintain equipment in a proper and efficient condition and operate in a proper and efficient manner to control emissions of dust from the premises.
Mr Bloem says the fine is a reminder to all companies of the importance of carrying out regular system checks and monitoring to ensure that any equipment failures are identified and fixed quickly to prevent environmental incidents like this.
The company has since repaired faulty bags in the bag house, as well as making other improvements including a proposal to install a real-time dust monitor between the cement works and the New Berrima community, to help prevent a recurrence of the incident.
The company has written to residents of New Berrima apologising for the dust emissions, assisted with the cleaning of affected vehicles and helped keep the community informed through its Community Consultative Committee.
The community can play an important role in helping the EPA to monitor industry compliance.
Anyone who has a concern about or knowledge of a particular incident is encouraged to contact the EPA’s 24-hour Environment Line on 131 555 to make a report so it can be investigated.
For more information about the EPA’s regulatory tools, please find information on the EPA Compliance Policy here.