Companies fined $92k for pollution

THE pollution of Ashby’s Sandy Creek with 690,000 litres of waste water from the Harwood Sugar Mill in 2009 has proven costly for three companies operating in the Lower Clarence as fines of more than $92,000 were handed down at the Maclean Court House on Tuesday.

Magistrate David Heilpern imposed the fines on the NSW Sugar Milling Co-operative, Lewis Brothers (Chatsworth) Pty Ltd and BD and MC Lewis Pty Ltd after they pleaded guilty to charges including polluting waters and transporting waste to an unlawful facility.

Between November 27 and December 8, Lewis Brothers transported the waste water – which contained dirt, sugarcane fibre and sugarcane juice – to Wilcocks Quarry on Tullymorgan Rd at Ashby.

As instructed by Stephen King from Harwood mill, the water was spread over a grassed area at the quarry.

From there the water ran into Sandy Creek and deoxygenated the water – confirmed in readings taken by the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water.

An affidavit from Ventry Lewis of Lewis Brothers stated he spoke with Mr King, who said he had spoken with the EPA about renewing a licence for disposal and he felt because the water was non-toxic a licence wasn’t needed.

In his written judgment, Mr Heilpern stated: “It was incumbent upon all corporate citizens to keep up to date with modern pollution prevention regulations.”

The NSW Sugar Milling Co-operative has two prior convictions for similar offences.

In 1991 the co-operative was fined $60,000 for two breaches of the Clean Waters Act, and in 1995 the mill was fined $37,500 for a similar offence at its Condong mill.

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