A coal mine was fined $30,000 for allegedly polluting a creek near Tamworth with sediment and soil released from a dam that filled during heavy rain.
The NSW Environment Protection Authority fined Tarrawonga Coal $30,000 for allegedly discharging mine sediment from a dam after heavy rain.
Whitehaven Coal, which operates the mine, failed to empty the pond within the required five-day management period after previous heavy rainfall, the EPA said.
As a result the dam was partly full on the 8 February, 2020 when the site received 158.6mm of rain. The company allegedly discharged soil in excess of their licence discharge limits.
That amount of rain would have exceeded the design capacity of the dam anyway, but the failure to empty it could have contributed to the volume of water and sediment discharged, the EPA said.
The dam discharges to the nearby Goonbri Creek.
EPA Manager Regulatory Operations Lindsay Fulloon said the rainfall event was forecast well in advance, but the mine did not maintain controls designed to protect the environment.
"Mine records indicated that de-watering of the sediment dam had not been done since May 2019, despite significant rainfall after that date," he said.
The mine has been fined $15,000 for the pollution of waters and $15,000 for failing to operate plant and equipment in a proper and efficient manner.
"The EPA will be working to ensure that mine water controls are maintained and operated appropriately to ensure incidents like these are avoided in the future," Mr Fulloon said.
A spokesperson for Whitehaven said it was a regrettable incident and the company has worked with the EPA to ensure their controls and management practices are appropriate to avoid any future incidents.