VIVA fined for chemical spill
The inability to properly manage and maintain a vital piece of equipment has led VIVA Energy Refining Pty Ltd to release chemical levels in Corio Bay well above its license limits.
The VIVA heat exchanger leak in April this year resulted in the release of BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene) three times the allowable limit in cooling water and Corio Bay since the northern outlet of the VIVA W5 zone.
BTEX is harmful to fish and aquatic life, but no fish deaths were observed as a result of the spill.
The EPA was made aware of the violation and fined VIVA $ 8,261.
“It should have been avoided. VIVA has now repaired faulty equipment, improved its maintenance procedures and will be more vigilant in the future, but under the Environmental Protection Act 1970 any license holder who violates a condition to which the license is submitted is guilty of an offense and the fine is therefore justified, ”said Carolyn Francis, EPA’s regional director for the Southwest.
“BTEX is toxic to marine life at high levels. There was no fish mortality or other impacts observed in this case, but it is essential that the license conditions are met to avoid the impacts ”.
As of July 1, 2021, the EPA has been operating under the new Environmental Protection Act 2017. At the heart of the new laws is an Australian first, the establishment of a general environmental obligation (GOL) which is criminally enforceable. This requires people carrying out activities that present risks to human health and the environment from pollution and waste to understand those risks and to take reasonable measures to eliminate or minimize them.
The new laws provide for much tougher penalties for non-compliance.