EPA fines Origin Energy $15,000 over ash dam dust

The NSW Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has fined Origin Energy $15,000 after strong winds blew dust offsite from an ash dam at its Eraring Power Station offsite.

The EPA inspected the site, located south of Newcastle, in September last year after receiving several calls from community members about a large amount of dust blowing from the facility.

EPA director Hunter, Karen Marler, said the company’s failure to properly manage the ash storage was “unacceptable”.

“While a strong north westerly wind caused the dust to leave the dam, this could have been avoided,” Marler said.

Fly ash is one of the combustion products generated from coal-fired power stations, made of fine particles driven out of the boiler with the flue gases.

It is disposed of in ash dams.

“Management of ash is so important because it can cause impacts on the environment, including smothering aquatic environments and generating dust pollution,” Marler added.

The company is developing an ash dam dust monitoring network which will inform their emergency response, and the EPA will review these plans.

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