Ipswich company hit with $240,000 in fines

IPSWICH timber treatment company Australian Hardboards Limited (AHL) was fined $240,000 by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Friday. AHL was found guilty of five counts of breaching an environmental management program (EMP) and fined in the Brisbane Magistrates Court before Magistrate Herlihy. AHL company director Bruce William McLeod was found guilty of failing to ensure that AHL installed an effluent treatment plant as required under the EMP and fined $8000. Neither conviction was recorded. EPA executive director of environmental operations Mark Williamson said the prosecution sent a message to company directors and industry in Queensland that failure to comply with environmental management programs could result in significant fines. "This EMP required AHL to take a number of steps to improve the management of wastewater from its treatment processes and to conduct a contaminated land assessment," Mr Williamson said. "This included a requirement to construct a wastewater treatment plant to stop contaminated wastewater potentially entering the Bremer River. "The company failed to take these steps within the required timeframes and therefore failed to meet its obligations under state environmental law. "The EPA will not allow EMPs to be used as a delaying tactic while operators continue to pollute the environment." Mr Williamson said the wastewater treatment plant had now been built as a result of orders secured by the EPA in the Planning and Environment Court in September, 2005. AHL chairman Louis Niederer said in the end, the company worked with the EPA to get the required result. Mr Niederer said the company was happy to have the situation behind it and was looking forward to moving on. Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale said he was pleased the dark cloud could now be lifted and that the company could now go forward. Cr Pisasale said there was a lesson to be learnt from the issue and that it was up to the industry to set the environmental standards but as far as he was concerned, it was "old baggage" for the company. He said industry needed to learn that practices from years ago were not suitable practices for the 21st century. "The environmental standard of the nation is important," Cr Pisasale said. "The EPA has to conform to the laws of the land."

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