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Contents (1997 - 156)
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Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 No 156
Current version for 20 December 2019 to date (accessed 23 February 2020 at 23:05)
Chapter 5 Part 5.7
Part 5.7 Duty to notify pollution incidents
147   Meaning of material harm to the environment
(1)  For the purposes of this Part—
(a)  harm to the environment is material if—
(i)  it involves actual or potential harm to the health or safety of human beings or to ecosystems that is not trivial, or
(ii)  it results in actual or potential loss or property damage of an amount, or amounts in aggregate, exceeding $10,000 (or such other amount as is prescribed by the regulations), and
(b)  loss includes the reasonable costs and expenses that would be incurred in taking all reasonable and practicable measures to prevent, mitigate or make good harm to the environment.
(2)  For the purposes of this Part, it does not matter that harm to the environment is caused only in the premises where the pollution incident occurs.
148   Pollution incidents causing or threatening material harm to be notified
(1) Kinds of incidents to be notified This Part applies where a pollution incident occurs in the course of an activity so that material harm to the environment is caused or threatened.
(2) Duty of person carrying on activity to notify A person carrying on the activity must, immediately after the person becomes aware of the incident, notify each relevant authority of the incident and all relevant information about it.
(3) Duty of employee engaged in carrying on activity to notify A person engaged as an employee in carrying on an activity must, immediately after the person becomes aware of the incident, notify the employer of the incident and all relevant information about it. If the employer cannot be contacted, the person is required to notify each relevant authority.
(3A) Duty of employer to notify Without limiting subsection (2), an employer who is notified of an incident under subsection (3) or who otherwise becomes aware of a pollution incident which is related to an activity of the employer, must, immediately after being notified or otherwise becoming aware of the incident, notify each relevant authority of the incident and all relevant information about it.
(4) Duty of occupier of premises to notify The occupier of the premises on which the incident occurs must, immediately after the occupier becomes aware of the incident, notify each relevant authority of the incident and all relevant information about it.
(5) Duty on employer and occupier to ensure notification An employer or an occupier of premises must take all reasonable steps to ensure that, if a pollution incident occurs in carrying on the activity of the employer or occurs on the premises, as the case may be, the persons engaged by the employer or occupier will, immediately, notify the employer or occupier of the incident and all relevant information about it.
(6) Extension of duty to agents and principals This section extends to a person engaged in carrying on an activity as an agent for another. In that case, a reference in this section to an employee extends to such an agent and a reference to an employer extends to the principal.
(7)    (Repealed)
(8) Meaning of “relevant authority” In this section—
relevant authority means any of the following—
(a)  the appropriate regulatory authority,
(b)  if the EPA is not the appropriate regulatory authority—the EPA,
(c)  if the EPA is the appropriate regulatory authority—the local authority for the area in which the pollution incident occurs,
(d)  the Ministry of Health,
(e)  SafeWork NSW as referred to in clause 1 of Schedule 2 to the Work Health and Safety Act 2011,
(f)  Fire and Rescue NSW.
149   Manner and form of notification
(1)  If the regulations prescribe the manner or form of notifying pollution incidents under section 148, the notification is to conform to the requirements of the regulations.
(2)  Without limiting subsection (1), the regulations—
(a)  may require that verbal notification be followed by written notification, and
(b)  may provide that notification to a designated person or authority is taken to be notification to the relevant person or authority under section 148.
150   Relevant information to be given
(1)  The relevant information about a pollution incident required under section 148 consists of the following—
(a)  the time, date, nature, duration and location of the incident,
(b)  the location of the place where pollution is occurring or is likely to occur,
(c)  the nature, the estimated quantity or volume and the concentration of any pollutants involved, if known,
(d)  the circumstances in which the incident occurred (including the cause of the incident, if known),
(e)  the action taken or proposed to be taken to deal with the incident and any resulting pollution or threatened pollution, if known,
(f)  other information prescribed by the regulations.
(2)  The information required by this section is the information known to the person notifying the incident when the notification is required to be given.
(3)  If the information required to be included in a notice of a pollution incident by subsection (1) (c), (d) or (e) is not known to that person when the initial notification is made but becomes known afterwards, that information must be notified in accordance with section 148 immediately after it becomes known.
151   Incidents not required to be reported
(1)  A person is not required to notify a pollution incident under section 148 if the person is aware that the incident has already come to the notice of each person or authority required to be notified.
(2)  A person is not required to notify a pollution incident under section 148 if the incident is an ordinary result of action required to be taken to comply with an environment protection licence, an environment protection notice or other requirement of or made under this Act.
151A   EPA may require other notification of pollution incidents
(1)  This section applies to the occupier of premises where a pollution incident has occurred in the course of an activity so that material harm to the environment is caused or threatened.
(2)  The EPA may direct a person to whom this section applies to notify such other persons of the incident as the EPA requires.
(3)  The direction is not required to be given in writing.
(4)  The direction may specify the manner or form of notifying the pollution incident and the information that must be provided.
(5)  The direction may require that an initial verbal notification be followed by written notification.
(6)  A person must not fail to comply with a direction given under this section.
(7)    (Repealed)
(8)  If a direction under this section is given to a person who is carrying out an activity, is engaged as an employee in carrying out an activity, or is the employer of such a person, the obligations under this section are in addition to, and not in derogation of, the obligations under section 148 (except as provided by section 151 (1)).
152   Offence
A person who contravenes this Part is guilty of an offence.
Maximum penalty—
(a)  in the case of a corporation—$2,000,000 and, in the case of a continuing offence, a further penalty of $240,000 for each day the offence continues, or
(b)  in the case of an individual—$500,000 and, in the case of a continuing offence, a further penalty of $120,000 for each day the offence continues.
Note.
 An offence against this section committed by a corporation is an offence attracting special executive liability for a director or other person involved in the management of the corporation—see section 169.
153   Incriminating information
(1)  A person is required to notify a pollution incident under this Part even though to do so might incriminate the person or make the person liable to a penalty.
(2)  Any notification given by a person under this Part is not admissible in evidence against the person for an offence or for the imposition of a penalty.
(3)  Subsection (2) does not apply to evidence obtained following or as a result of the notification.