$233k fine to ski resort for ‘unacceptable’ sewage contamination

One was taken upstream and one downstream of the treatment plant, to show the impact of the wastewater treatment plant on water quality.

The downstream sample was found to have more than 600 times the ammonia of the upstream sample and more than 15 times the water quality guideline.

On July 24, the same test was run to assess nitrogen levels, with downstream levels eight times higher than the upstream sample.

NSW Environmental Protection Authority chief executive Tony Chappel said Charlotte Pass should have taken more care in protecting the national park.

“The most disappointing thing was that the offenses were foreseeable since the resort knew that the plant and equipment in question needed to be repaired,” Chappel told this headline.

“If you know your equipment is not meeting required standards you should address it, failure to do so is an unacceptable disregard for the environment.”

At her trial, Judge Rachel Pepper ruled that while it was “possible and even probable” that biological damage was caused to both the unnamed creek and Spencer Creek, it could not be proven that it was a single factor in any future problem.

However, Judge Pepper noted that the offense was made worse, since Charlotte Pass had “actual knowledge” that the diffusers that caused the elevated levels needed to be fixed.

The aeration tanks in question. Credit:New South Wales case law

“Whether it was caused by fouling or some other defect, it remains a fact that the diffusers were not properly maintained and were unable to perform their function properly, resulting in elevated levels of ammonia and nitrogen in the effluent discharged to the environment. He said at his trial.

“It was this discharge that caused both the actual and potential damage discussed above.”

The resort was fined $144,000 along with costs of $89,425.23 from the EPA investigation, for a total of $233,425.23.

In issuing the fine, Judge Pepper said she had taken into account the fact that the park had “expressed contrition and remorse through its actions” and had pleaded guilty early.

The park was also ordered to post notices of the court decision on the company’s Facebook and Instagram pages, as well as on its website.