Contaminated water news: How power company was permitted to poison river.

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Natalie O’Brien | March 18, 2012 | | Shared as an education material

IN 2007, the Blue Mountains Conservation Society suspected the Delta power company was discharging harmful substances into the Coxs River, which is part of Sydney’s drinking water catchment.

 It raised the alarm with the EPA, the Sydney Catchment Authority, and the Minister for the Environment, according to a new report commissioned for the Nature Conservation Council.

In 2008, the EPA announced it did not intend to prosecute Delta despite evidence the company was continuing to pollute the river.

 Advertisement: Story continues below In 2009, the society filed its own civil action in the Land and Environment Court claiming the company was polluting the water. It alleged salt, copper, zinc, aluminium, boron, fluoride and arsenic were being pumped into river in waste water from the Wallerawang power station and Delta had no authorisation to do it.

 Last year, the society agreed to stop legal proceedings on the condition Delta admitted it had discharged waste water into the river between 2007 and 2011 and it submitted an application to the EPA to vary its licence to include a maximum limit on the levels of salt, copper, zinc, aluminium, boron, fluoride, arsenic and nickel it could discharge.

 Delta agreed and was required to include a condition in its licence for a pollution reduction program.

 At no point did the EPA take enforcement action itself. It varied Delta’s licence after the court action and required Delta to monitor the same pollutants the society had complained about.

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