A leak from Viva Energy Refining Pty Ltd that allowed oil to escape into Shell Creek has cost the company a fine of nearly $8,000.
Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) issued Viva Energy Refining Pty Ltd with an infringement notice representing a fine of $7, 929 for failing to report the spill promptly.
EPA South West Manager, Carolyn Francis said notification from the refinery came almost four hours after the leak was first discovered by Viva, a delay that affected the authority’s ability to ensure appropriate response by the company and investigate the incident.
“Prompt notification of an incident like this is required by the site’s EPA licence. Viva Energy also has environmental incident notification procedures as part of its environmental monitoring program,” Ms Francis said.
“It is disappointing that a major facility with embedded procedures did not notify EPA as soon as the discharge was detected, especially since the incident occurred during the middle of a week day shift.
“EPA’s priorities when notified of an incident include ensuring that appropriate clean up measures are completed promptly, and any relevant pollution advice warnings go out to the community in time to protect public safety, as well as collecting any evidence that may be needed for EPA to follow up potential offences,” Ms Francis said.
“It is hard to achieve those aims if the duty holder, the company running the facility, doesn’t fulfil its responsibility to report the leak immediately,” Ms Francis said.
EPA officers arrived within 25 minutes of receiving the report. The attending officer observed that controls had been implemented to prevent any further release of oil. No further oil sheen was observed. EPA’s follow up investigation found that there had been oil leaking into a safety reservoir within the plant for several days before the incident and despite control measures put in place by the refinery earlier in the week, oil still eventually found its way into Shell Creek.
Viva Energy Refining Pty Ltd was fined for failing to notifying EPA of a non compliance of a licence condition immediately, which is a contravention of Section 27(2) of the Environment Protection Act.
Under the Environment Protection Act 1970 and the Infringements Act 2008, VIVA Energy Refining Pty Ltd has the right to have the decision to issue the infringement notice reviewed or alternatively to have the matter heard and determined by a court.
The company has conducted a clean up as part of its responsibility under the EP Act.