Environment Department Issues Enforcement Orders Against Qld Nickel Sales

Environment Department Issues Enforcement Orders Against Qld Nickel Sales

Queensland Minister for Environment Steven Miles

Enforcement Orders Issued Against Qld Nickel Sales

Victor P Taffa

Hours after transferring an Environmental Authority permitting Queensland Nickel Sales to operate the Yabulu refinery, the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP) has served enforcement orders demanding the company take action to ensure the environment is protected.

The action was taken after the new licenced operator, Queensland Nickel Sales Pty Ltd, failed to demonstrate to EHP, as the state’s environmental regulator, that it had adequate resources to operate the facility in a way that complied with its environmental authority.

Environment Minister Dr. Steven Miles said EHP had moved quickly this afternoon to demand management and owners fulfil their obligations to prevent environmental harm occurring at the Yabulu site.

“We expect the parties responsible for this business to prevent harm to the environment.” Dr. Miles said.

“To this end, we have issued a number of enforcement orders to Queensland Nickel Sales Pty Ltd under the Environmental Protection Act 1994.”

“These essentially direct the company to ensure environmental protection systems at the refinery keep operating.”

“There are serious consequences, including the possibility of criminal charges being laid, for failing to comply with these directives.” Dr. Miles said.

Queensland Nickel Sales holds an environmental authority, issued to the company at 11.30 am today, to operate a nickel and cobalt refinery at Yabulu, 20 km north of Townsville.

The refinery is close to Halifax Bay, which is part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and World Heritage Area.

Dr. Miles said one priority was ensuring the refinery’s tailings dam retained its environmental integrity.

“It is essential the refinery’s tailings dam and associated seepage return system keep operating.” Dr. Miles said.

“The tailings dam contains a number of by-products from the refining process that need to be collected, stabilised and quarantined from the natural environment.”

“Further enforcement action will be considered as necessary as events unfold.” Dr. Miles said.