Lock the Gate Alliance is once again calling on the NSW Government to introduce tougher penalties for coal mining companies that break the law, after Whitehaven Coal was fined just $30,000 for illegally polluting a creek near its Tarrawonga Mine in Northern NSW.
Based on the 439,000 tonnes of coal Whitehaven produced at Tarrawonga during the September quarter, and the current $185/tonne price of coal, Whitehaven moved about $81 million worth of coal from Tarrawonga during the quarter.
Divided by 90 days and 24 hours, Whitehaven shipped out an average of $37,599 worth of coal each hour during the quarter - $7,599 more than the fine the company just received.
“While we welcome the NSW Environment Protection Authority taking action against Whitehaven for its environmental crimes, a $30,000 fine is not a sufficient deterrent and the EPA can’t impose a higher fine than that without action from the Perrottet Government,” said Lock the Gate Alliance spokesperson Georgina Woods.
“We would like to see the government introduce fines that are commensurate with the amount of money Whitehaven is making by mining coal so the EPA can impose effective penalties for this company's ongoing environmental crimes.
“It must be disheartening for the staff at the EPA to go to so much work investigating Whitehaven’s illegal activity, with the knowledge the company will be fined less than it makes in an hour selling coal.
“It’s imperative that the Perrottet Government make the penalties for environmental crimes sufficient to make a company like Whitehaven Coal clean up its act.
“All this is made so much worse because Whitehaven is a repeat offender. It has already been fined three times for this same offence, and it has a broader rapsheet a mile long. Clearly, the fines this company is receiving are not high enough to stop it from re-offending.”