EPA fines Construction Supply Company $15,000 after Acetone and Xylene spill

EPA fines Parchem Construction Supplies Pty Ltd after Acetone and Xylene spill

Media release: 15 April 2016
The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has issued a $15,000 fine to Parchem Construction Supplies Pty Ltd after a chemical spill at the company’s premises in Wyong.

EPA Hunter Region Manager, Adam Gilligan, said the EPA attended the incident with Fire and Rescue crews on 13 October 2015.

“Fire and Rescue New South Wales Hazmat (FRNSW Hazmat) and the EPA attended the premises. The site was evacuated whilst Hazmat undertook a clean-up recovery operation.

The spill occurred when a ‘flammable wash solvent mix’ containing acetone and xylene was being moved by forklift as part of a decanting process. The mixing pot containing the chemicals was not secured adequately to the forklift, and 700 litres of the mix was spilt.

“Acetone is a volatile organic solvent, which is toxic in high doses. When exposed to the air, it quickly evaporates and remains highly flammable, while short-term inhalation to mix can result in irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat,” said Mr. Gilligan.

The spill occurred inside a bunded area of the premises, and the liquid mixture did not flow from the site.

“While 700 litres of the solvent mix was spilt, only 100 litres was able to be recovered in liquid form. Potentially up to 600 litres of the mixture volatilised into the surrounding atmosphere.

Mr. Gilligan said it’s important for EPA to respond to chemical spills promptly as these can cause significant health and environmental impacts.

Penalty notices are one of a number of tools the EPA can use to achieve environmental compliance, including formal warnings, licence conditions, notices and directions, mandatory audits, enforceable undertakings, legally binding pollution reduction programs and prosecutions

The EPA must also take a range of factors into account before delivering a proportionate regulatory response, including the degree of environmental harm, whether or not there are any real or potential health impacts, if the action of the offender was deliberate, compliance history, public interest and best environmental outcomes

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