July 29, 2015

EnergyAustralia, operator of the Yallourn power station, has implemented 14 wide-ranging improvement measures in response to an unlicensed waste water discharge into the Morwell River on 19 February this year.

A rupture in a pipeline caused by a failure of a welded pipe joint, resulted in around 8.6 megalitres of salt water entering the Morwell River for a short duration.

Operations staff onsite at the time of the incident were able to contain the spill and notified the EPA of the incident.

The EPA has completed an investigation in relation to the waste discharge and has concluded that the impact of the spill material was diluted by river flows, minimising environmental impact and potential risk to human health.

This has resulted in the EPA issuing EnergyAustralia with a fine of $7,584.

"This incident, while highly unusual, did result in an unlicensed spill to the Morwell River," Mark Pearson, Head of Yallourn, Energy said.

"We took immediate action upon identifying the incident and have cooperated with the EPA during its investigations.

We have also introduced a range of process improvements to prevent a similar event from occurring again.

"The fact that it occurred was distressing for us and the community and for that reason, we accept responsibility for the incident and will pay the fine," he said.

Process improvements have been designed to reduce the potential for further failures and ensure that in the event of a problem, operating plant will be automatically shut down.

They include upgrades of alarms to automatically shut down the ash line pumps and alert site staff to ruptures, installation of CCTV cameras in high risk areas and a requirement for hydraulic testing of new pipework prior to commissioning.