Viva Energy charged by EPA after Corio Bay chemical release

Viva Energy has been hit with an $8000 fine for releasing harmful chemicals into Corio Bay.

VIVA Energy has been hit with an $8000 fine for releasing harmful chemicals into Corio Bay.

The Environment Protection Authority found the refinery operator had breached its licence limits by releasing BTEX – containing benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene – three times above the licenced limit into cooling water and Corio Bay.

EPA south west manager Carolyn Francis said failure to properly manage and maintain a vital piece of equipment led to the discharge of chemicals from the Viva W5 Area North Outfall.

The Corio refinery operator was issued an infringement notice and fined $8261 fine.

Ms Francis said BTEX is harmful to fish and aquatic life, but no fish deaths had been observed from the spill.

“This should have been prevented,” Ms Francis said.

“Viva has now fixed the faulty equipment, improved its maintenance procedures and will be more vigilant in future, but, under the Environment Protection Act 1970, any licence holder who contravenes any condition to which the licence is subject is guilty of an offence and the fine is therefore warranted.”

She said while no harm had been linked to the leak, it was critical that licence conditions were adhered with to prevent impacts.

A Viva Energy spokesman said the authority did not intend to contest the matter.

Viva Energy notified the EPA of the incident as soon as we became aware of it,” the spokesman said.

“We have thoroughly investigated the cause of the incident and put in place a number of mitigation measures to ensure it does not happen again.”

The spokesman said preventive measures put in place since the incident included increasing the frequency of preventive maintenance on the equipment that caused the leak.

“Viva Energy takes its environmental responsibilities seriously and regrets the incident. We will use the learnings to further improve our operations and prevent any similar incidents from occurring in future,” he said.

“We will be making a financial contribution to Greening Australia to the same value as the EPA fine.”

The EPA has urged members of the community to reduce risk by reporting waste and resource recovery sites that don’t comply with the regulations.

To report a matter call the EPA’s 24-hour pollution hotline, on 1300 EPA VIC (1300 372 842) or email at [email protected].

Extracted from Geelong Advertiser

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