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Remediation ordered for Sugarloaf SCA

Media release: 28 August 2013

Today the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) issued a formal remediation direction for damage caused by leakage of grouting material into a natural drainage line in Sugarloaf State Conservation Area, near Newcastle.

NSW Head of National Parks, Ann King said the leakage occurred during remediation work being undertaken West Wallsend Colliery under their approved Subsidence Management Plan (SMP).

“Oceanic Coal Australia Pty Limited, (Oceanic) being the operator of West Wallsend Colliery, has been directed under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 to remove the grout from the affected area and ensuring minimal impact to the environment in completing this work,” Ms King said.

In June this year West Wallsend Colliery notified the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) of the leak during subsidence remediation using Air-O-Cem, a chemically inert and non-toxic aerated cement known as grout.

Oceanic reported the grout affected area extends approximately 250m down the slope of the work area, estimating that approximately 75 cubic meters of grout has travelled into the drainage channel.

The company immediately ceased grouting activities. In addition a geotechnical consultant undertook inspections of the site to confirm the extent of the affected area.

NPWS has been working with WWC since early July to investigate options to remove the grout and remediate the park.

NPWS will ensure that remediation activities, coordinated by the mining company are undertaken in accordance with the remediation direction.

OEH has been investigating the incident to determine what regulatory action should be taken, including potential prosecution action.

Ms King said NPWS takes its responsibilities for managing the States natural areas seriously.

“This includes protection of natural and cultural values and the provision of opportunities for people to experience and enjoy these safely when they visit,” Ms King said.

“Visitors to Sugarloaf are reminded to observe any exclusion areas and remain on the formed tracks and trails for their safety.”

The Sugarloaf State Conservation Area (SCA) has been managed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service since it was transferred from Forests NSW and Crown Lands in 2007 as part of the Lower Hunter Conservation Strategy.

Contact: Lawrence Orel

Page last updated: 29 August 2013