Greens MP and environment spokeswoman Cate Faehrmann says the George's River fiasco should be a wake up call for the Environment Minister to undertake a major overhaul of the state's pollution laws.
"The reason Illawarra Coal has not faced any fines for the ongoing, chronic pollution it spews into a Georges River tributary is because the pollution is effectively sanctioned under the Government's current pollution regime," said Ms Faehrmann.
The company's West Cliff coal mine operates under an environmental protection licence that does not require limits on the pollutants that are of concern. Salt, nickel, zinc and turbidity are the pollution problems from the mine but the EPA only has discharge limits on oil & grease, pH, and suspended solids that are not linked to any environmental damage.
"This licencing arrangement is typical of the EPA's laissez fair approach to pollution regulation. Polluters tell the EPA how much pollution they want to make to run their business and the EPA grants a licence for it," said Ms Faehrmann.
"So far the Minister has tinkered with pollution laws and improved the independence of the EPA but this falls short of the major shake up required."
"With a succession of pollution scandals the Minister needs to wake up and deliver the major reform needed to clamp down on pollution to protect the community and environment," said Ms Faehrmann.
Greens NSW congratulate the environment groups who have filed a case against the mining company in an effort to stop the pollution.
Media contact: Nicola Beynon 0416 843 131