The Nature Conservation Council of NSW has welcomed the State government’s announcement today that it will accept all the recommendations of the O’Reilly report into the incident at the Orica plant at Kooragang Island on 8 August 2011.
We welcome the requirement for immediate community notification of pollution incidents and the decision to expand the information made publicly available on the Environmental Protection Authority’s pollution register.
Increased maximum penalties and mandatory environmental audits will play an important role in improving industry compliance with our pollution laws.
The reforms announced by the government today are an important step in the right direction, but must be part of a longer term reform process aimed at remedying the systemic failings of our pollution control system.
The release of hexavalent chromium at Stockton was not an isolated incident, but part of a wider pattern of regular pollution breaches at hundreds of sites. The upcoming parliamentary inquiry into the Orica incidents provides an ideal opportunity for close examination of the long-term reforms required to put an end to illegal pollution.
Every year, millions of tonnes of pollution are released into the air and water across NSW. The EPA must set strong pollution reduction targets to ensure that pollution is reduced over time, in line with community desire for a clean, healthy environment.