$1500 fine for BlueScope after Port Kembla pollution breach

File picture of BlueScope Steel at Port Kembla.

File picture of BlueScope Steel at Port Kembla.

BlueScope has been fined $1500 and ordered to improve its emissions monitoring systems after breaching its pollution licence on two occasions at Port Kembla in February.

The Environment Protection Authority, which levied the fine, has directed the company undertake a $50,000 trial of improved air emission monitoring equipment.

The EPA’s Illawarra Manager for the Illawarra region Peter Bloem said the two incidents involved excessive release of fine particulate matter from the sinter plant.

‘‘The breach was attributed to a number of factors including an electrical fault in the pollution control equipment and limitations in the monitoring equipment used to measure particle emissions,’’ he said.

‘‘It resulted in a visible dust emission which was observed by the EPA.’’

Mr Bloem said the steelmaker has since implemented measures to minimise emissions including repairs to the pollution control equipment, cleaning it more often, and additional air emissions testing. 

The EPA licence limit for the de-dusting unit stack is 50 milligrams per cubic metre. Air emission testing by Bluescope on February 14 showed a reading of 120 milligrams per cubic metre of fine particles, and 75 milligrams per cubic metre on February 28.

‘‘While the actual environmental impact of these two incidents is considered low, the EPA takes all breaches of licence limits seriously,’’ Mr Bloem said.

The EPA had added a legally binding pollution reduction program condition onto the licence.

‘‘This program requires BlueScope to trial the use of two continuous particle emission monitors to replace the existing opacity meters used to monitor dust levels being emitted to air at the Sinter Plant,’’ Mr Bloem said.

‘‘Subject to agreement with BlueScope, the trial will run over a six month period with an estimated cost of $50,000 to the company.

‘‘The aim of new monitors is to help improve the reliability and accuracy of BlueScope’s air emission monitoring at the Sinter Plant and work to improve their compliance and overall environmental performance.’’

A BlueScope spokesman confirmed the incidents.

‘‘We are confident that the emissions have had no material impact to the environment and have been working closely with the EPA to rectify the situation.

‘‘In particular, we have modified the way in which we operate and we are investigating new technology to ensure greater accuracy.’’

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