GRAINCORP has been slugged with a $40,200 fine in the NSW Land and Environment Court for breaches of fumigation protocol at its Port Kembla facility.
The bulk handling giant was prosecuted by the NSW Environment Protection Authority and was found guilty of various breaches leading to overapplication of fumigant products between 2016 and 2018.
The charges were for failing to carry out activities in a competent manner by incorrectly calculating and recording the emissions of fumigation chemicals used to treat grain, including phosphine and methyl bromide.
GrainCorp advised that between February 2016 and January 2018 the emissions of chemical fumigants had been incorrectly calculated and had also not been properly recorded.
This resulted in the actual emission rate of fumigants exceeding licence conditions on 145 occasions.
The Court found there was no actual environmental harm but the potential for harm was reasonably foreseeable.
GrainCorp attributed the cause of the offence to a calculation error when interpreting the monitoring data.
The company self-reported the breaches to the EPA when it became aware of the error in February 2018.
The EPA and GrainCorp took immediate steps to rectify this issue and prevent a recurrence.
General manager of operations with GrainCorp's grains business unit Nigel Lotz said fumigation was critical for Australia's grain exporters and that it was a job GrainCorp took seriously and he apologised for the mistakes.
"Port Kembla provides a vital link between Australian grain growers and international markets and fumigation is an essential part of protecting the high-quality reputation of Australian produce in those markets," Mr Lotz said.
"We take our licence obligations very seriously and we are disappointed these exceedances occurred.
"We apologise to our team members and the broader community that this has happened."
He said GrainCorp has taken steps to ensure the miscalculations would not happen again.
"GrainCorp has made a series of important changes to its operations at Port Kembla following the breach," he said.