Abattoir cops a $130,000 fine

RAMSEY Food Processing has been fined $130,000 and ordered to pay $13,000 in costs after being convicted of polluting a South Grafton creek.

The South Grafton-based abattoir was found in court to have polluted the Musk Valley Creek and its tributary.

Ramsey Food Processing Pty Ltd, operator of the South Grafton abattoir, was convicted in the Land and Environment Court on Wednesday, following a pollution incident in Musk Valley Creek and its tributary in October 2007.

The Land and Environment Court fined the company $40,000 for polluting the creek with a significant but undetermined amount of untreated abattoir effluent.

A pipe that was part of the effluent management system had split.

The company was fined a further $10,000 for polluting a tributary to the creek.

The company was fined $80,000 for failing to notify authorities of the pollution incident, as required by law.

Ramsey Food Processing Pty Ltd was also ordered to pay costs, including more than $13,400 investigation costs, and to publish notice of the conviction in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Daily Examiner.

The conviction follows an investigation by the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (DECCW).

A neighbouring landholder had noticed black, smelly water and dead fish in the section of Musk Valley Creek running through his property downstream of the abattoir.

The landholder contacted the department.

DECCW immediately contacted Ramsey Food Processing Pty Ltd to inquire about possible causes of pollution.

The department was not advised of the pollution incident, however, until four days later and after further investigations by DECCW officers.

DECCW director-general Lisa Corbyn said the court’s decision sent a clear message that the community expected our waterways to be protected from pollution events.

“Operators have a responsibility to notify authorities of pollution incidents as quickly as possible,” Ms Corbyn said.

“This is to reduce as much as practical their impacts on the environment, including our waterways and the community.

“The community can also report pollution incidents on the free-call pollution line 133 555.”

This is the second water pollution conviction for Ramsey Food Processing Pty Ltd.

It follows a similar pollution incident in 2003 when the company was fined more than $33,000.

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