12. Environmental regulation
AGL’s businesses are subject to a range of environmental laws and regulations as well as project and site-specific environmental permits and approvals issued at both the Federal and State Government levels.
During the financial year ended 30 June 2019, there were four alleged non-compliances in relation to an event that occurred in late May 2018 at Bayswater Power station when diesel overflowed from an onsite storage tank, with a small amount of diesel making its way into a nearby creek. Two of these alleged non-compliances became the subject of regulatory action by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) under relevant environmental legislation, with two penalty infringement notices being issued to AGL Macquarie Pty Limited. There were also two official cautions that were issued to AGL Macquarie Pty Limited in relation to this event.
There were other alleged non-compliances, which have not resulted in any regulatory action. These were notified to the relevant regulator, and reported under the AGL site licence conditions in accordance with the respective legal requirements.
The two penalty infringement notices were issued on 24 January 2019 for an alleged failure to comply with two conditions of environmental protection licence (EPL) 779. These notices included fines of $15,000 each.
The two official cautions were also issued on 24 January 2019 for an alleged:
- failure to comply with a condition of EPL 779; and
- pollution of waters offence.
In June 2017 the NSW EPA commenced proceedings against AGL Upstream Investments Pty Limited, alleging that AGL had contravened a condition of its EPL 12003. The alleged offence relates to a flood event that occurred in early June 2016 and impacted the Camden Gas Project. As at the date of this Report the proceedings are ongoing. There is no allegation that environmental harm occurred.
On 16 January 2019, AGL suspended coal ash sales from Bayswater and Liddell power stations as a precautionary measure. This step was taken after a number of test results identified elevated levels of metals including chromium and copper, which could exceed limits set by the EPA in the Coal Ash Order 2014. AGL notified the EPA, SafeWork and NSW Health and the four companies in the Upper Hunter that buy and use the coal ash, predominantly in engineering applications for concrete based products.
At the time, AGL sought advice from an external expert who confirmed through a comprehensive human health risk assessment that, based on AGL’s current coal ash sample test results, the use of the coal ash for all known uses does not pose a risk to human health and is not considered to be of concern to the environment. In June 2019 AGL resumed supply of fly ash supply from site, with the resumption of cenosphere supply commencing in July 2019. AGL continues to cooperate fully with the EPA in relation to this matter.