The Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO) require the occupier of premises, the employer or any person carrying on the activity which causes a pollution incident to immediately notify each relevant authority when material harm to the environment is caused or threatened.
Communications with authorities
Pollution incidents which pose threats to human health or safety will be advised to the below external authority’s in the following order:
- Environmental Protection Authority 13 15 55
- Public Health Unit – Lismore (02) 6620 7585 (0417 244 966 a/h)
- SafeWork NSW 13 10 50
- Fire & Rescue NSW 000
Communications with adjoining properties and the community
In the event of an incident the following methods of communication shall be employed depending on the severity and nature of the incident.
- Phone calls
- Media releases (radio/television/newspaper/internet)
- Site visits/door knocking
- Letter box drops
The extent of the communications with the neighbours and the community will depend on the:
- The magnitude of the emission or discharge
- Type of pollutant
- What that pollutant may impact – water, land
- The potentially impacted area
- Weather conditions
- Potential duration of the impact
In all cases Council will attempt to provide early warning to directly affected premises by a phone call or a site visit. Early warning will include details of what the incident is, how those affected will need to respond, as well as providing important advice such as avoiding contact and use of affected land/waterways. This information will be given on a case by case basis.
If early warning is not possible Council will provide notification during and after an incident. Council will advise those affected with appropriate information, advice and updates.
In the event that the pollutant reaches the waterway, Council will erect signage in prominent locations to warn users of the possible contamination and to avoid activities within the waterway. Once the area affected has been cleaned up and deemed safe to the public, Council will inform the public and its staff that regular activities may resume in the area.
Pollution Incident Response Management Plans (PIRMPs)
Pollution Incident Response Management Plans (PIRMP) for Richmond Valley Council’s sewage treatment plants, waste facilities, and the Northern Rivers Livestock Exchange and Woodview Quarry, are listed below.
All holders of environment protection licences must prepare a pollution incident response management plan.
Plans must provide a description of the main hazards to human health or the environment associated with the activity being undertaken at the premises, the likelihood of any such hazards occurring, including details of any circumstances or events that could, or would, increase that likelihood.
Plans must include detailed descriptions of the pre-emptive actions to be taken to minimise or prevent any risk of harm to human health or the environment arising from the activities undertaken at the premises.