Press Release - September 6, 2023

Community win as power station prosecuted over massive fish-kill

SEPTEMBER 06, 2023

In a win for community and environment groups, criminal proceedings have been launched against the owner of Vales Point Power Station, Delta Electricity, over a distressing mass fish kill incident at Mannering Park, in Lake Macquarie in NSW.

Community members were left devastated when two major fish fills occurred in August and September 2022, resulting in an estimated 15,000 dead fish and Whitespotted eagle rays washing up onto the shores of Lake Macquarie.

After a criminal investigation into the cause of the second incident, the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has commenced a prosecution against Delta Electricity in the NSW Land and Environment Court.

The EPA is prosecuting Delta for its alleged failure to maintain its chlorine dosing plant in a proper and efficient condition, resulting in a faulty valve that caused a discharge of concentrated sodium hypochlorite into waters leading to Wyee Bay.

This is the first EPA prosecution against a NSW coal fired power station in more than a decade – with the only other being against Delta Electricity back in 2009 for its operations at Wallerawang power station, which has since closed.

The prosecution comes after sustained community campaigning against numerous pollution issues from Delta’s Vales Point – including its impact on community health from toxic air pollution, contamination of groundwater from its coal ash dump and efforts to avoid having to comply with NSW air pollution laws.

The new owners of Delta Electricity, Sev.en Energy AG, have a disturbing record overseas of seeking to avoid pollution controls, and extending the life of coal-fired power stations at the expense of community health.

Keep Lake Macquarie Clean Group member, Bruce Macfarlane said:

“Over the decades we have witnessed the gradual degradation of the lake with ever-reducing areas of seagrass and fish kills due to industrial activity around the lake. It’s not before time that companies that flout environmental licence conditions are called to account by the EPA.”

EJA lawyer Jocelyn McGarity said:

“It’s fantastic to see the State’s environmental watchdog showing its teeth by using its regulatory powers to protect the community and our beautiful marine life.

Residents were left devastated by the September fish kill.The community wants genuine accountability, and for the prosecution to lead to meaningful local change, such as restoring the Lake’s health from decades of coal pollution and replenishing fish stocks.

We applaud this tougher approach by the EPA and hope it results in tangible outcomes for the community and environment.

Given that Sev.en wants to keep Vales Point open until 2033, the community needs the EPA to stand its ground to signal to the new owners that these kinds of incidents will not be tolerated – especially as the power station gets clunkier and less reliable the older it gets.“

CONTACT: Jem Wilson, 03 8341 3110, [email protected]