​Wambo coal mine fined over blast incident

Peabody Energy’s Wambo Coal has been fined $13 000 after pleading guilty to blast incident.

The miner faced Singleton Local court over charges of emitting an offensive odour from blast, and fumes, after a blast went awry at its coal mine on 24 July, according to the EPA.

Peabody was also ordered to pay $24 000 in court costs.

NSW EPA manager for the Hunter Valley region Adam Gilligan welcomed ruling.

“This outcome should act as a warning to industry that particular attention and care needs to be taken before, during and after a blast,” Gilligan said.

“Local residents complained of having to go indoors and remain there for the duration of the blast fume incident to avoid the odour. One resident complained that the chemical smell hurt her nose and throat and that the odour entered her house, while another said she experienced dryness in her mouth and a child in her childcare centre complained of itchy eyes.

“At the time, Wambo knew that there was an increased potential for the blast to generate odorous fumes as the blast materials had been in place for 6 to 14 days. Wambo had delayed detonation on July 20 and 23 because of unfavourable wind direction and speeds.

“Despite knowing the increased risk of a blast fume incident occurring, Wambo did not take proactive steps to inform local residents of the risk from blast fumes.”

This isn’t the first time Wambo has come under scrutiny from the EPA for blasting.

In May the operation was investigated by the EPA after it was made aware of ‘large orange plumes’ from the mine.

At the time Peabody Energy told Australian Mining "the blast was observed to generate higher than usual levels of blast fume. Peabody Energy responded promptly to community enquiries regarding the blast and self-reported the incident to the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and other NSW regulatory bodies in accordance with theProtection of Environment Operations Act 1997".

The nearby BHP Mt Arthur coal mine was also investigated earlier this year after a blasting incident which saw orange plumes drift from the mine over a nearby industrial estate.

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