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28/02 - EPA places Dargues Reef Mine operators under strict environmental conditions

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has issued Big Island Mining with an immediate Clean-Up Notice for the Dargues Reef Mine construction site in Majors Creek following a water pollution incident during heavy rain last weekend.

The Notice requires the operators to take immediate action to ensure that appropriate environmental controls are in place and are being adhered to.

It requires the company to engage the expert services of a sediment erosion control professional to inspect the site, make recommendations for improvements and performance monitoring.

EPA Chief Environmental Regulator Mark Gifford said that the regulatory action follows a heavy rain incident on February 24 when run off from the site’s earthworks was washed into Spring Creek, a tributary of Majors Creek.

“The EPA received a self-report from the company on February 24, as well as a number of complaints about turbid water being discharged from the mine site and a possible failure of the sediment dam,” Mr Gifford said.

“An inspection by EPA officers the next day found that large areas of track construction did not have sediment and erosion control measures in place, allowing sediment laden water to move through the site.

“The EPA took immediate action to get the company to improve its environmental controls, including issuing a Clean-Up Notice which requires regular progress and compliance reports to the EPA.

“The EPA has also met with the company’s senior management and will continue to monitor the situation onsite, especially in high wet weather events, to ensure the incident does not reoccur.

“This will include water testing of Spring and Majors creeks, random site inspections and following up on any concerns raised by residents.”

Mr Gifford said that the EPA is still investigating the February 24 incident and will determine a regulatory response when investigations are completed.

Fines for not complying with a Clean-Up Notice are up to $1 million for a corporation and an additional $120,000 for every day that the offence continues.

Anybody who has concerns about potential environmental impacts from the Dargues Reef Mine should call the Enviro Line on 131 555.

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