T4 coal loader proponent’s dirty past revealed

The company that wants to build Newcastle port’s fourth coal loader has repeatedly breached pollution licence conditions while operating two of its existing coal loaders, documents obtained by the NSW Nature Conservation Council under freedom of information documents have shown.

“The documents we have obtained show Port Waratah Coal Services has repeatedly treated its pollution licence obligations as optional in regard to two of its existing coal terminals, T1 and T2,” NCC spokesperson James Whelan said.

“We audited PWCS' compliance with the conditions of its existing pollution licences and found the company had been non-compliant with T1 licence conditions in six years since 2000, and non-compliant with T2 licence conditions in five years since 2000.

"The NSW Government has been asked to approve and licence a mega coal terminal in a densely populated area.

“Our audit of this company's pollution record shows they regularly exceed the limits of their pollution licences. A routine polluter like this should not be granted permission for an additional coal terminal."

Port Waratah Coal Services is seeking approval for a fourth coal terminal in Newcastle that would add 70 million tonnes a year to the company’s export capacity from its two existing Newcastle coal terminals (T1 and T2). The Planning Assessment Commission will hold a public hearing in Newcastle this week to assess the project.

The company is licenced by the NSW EPA to operate T1 and T2, requiring the company to monitor air and water pollution.

Licence condition 4.1 directs PWCS not to release more than 3,000 kilolitres (KL) of wastewater into the Hunter River from the T1 sewage treatment plant and settling pond. During the past three years (since mid-2011), PWCS has breached this licence condition 27 times. The company has reported releasing up to 25,210 KL/day - more than eight times their licence limit.

Licence condition 3.1 directs PWCS to ensure Total Suspended Solids released into the Hunter from discharge point 11 (Carrington) remain below 50 milligrams per litre. PWCS has breached this licence condition 48 times since mid 2011. On 10 occasions, the concentration of total suspended solids reached more than 10 times this licence limit, reaching a peak of 1730mg/L in February 2014.

"World's best practice to prevent pollution from coal export facilities includes completely covering coal trains and stockpiles.

“PWCS already operates two massive coal terminals in the world's largest coal port without these conditions, and do not propose these measures for T4."

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