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Company fined $460,000 after cattle deaths

Company fined $460,000 after cattle deaths Danger: Stacked nitrate at Warkworth’s Dyno Nobel plant in a photo taken in 2005.
Nanjing Night Net

Devastated: A farmer was devastated after up to 80 cattle were locked in a paddock where the only available water was toxic. Warkworth’s Dyno Nobel has been fined $460,000 for causing five cows and a calf to die.

Fined: Warkworth’s Dyno Nobel site. The company has been fined $460,000 for a significant water pollution incident in 2015.

TweetFacebookThe notice should refer specifically to the death of the cattle and the partial abortion of a calf. It is not appropriate to soften or sanitise the description of what took place.

NSW Land and Environment Court Justice Tim Moore.

Dyno Nobel manufactures ammonium nitrate emulsions used in explosives for the mining industry at its Warkworth site and handles and stores a range of hazardous goods for this purpose.

The wastewater in the farm dam had a nitrate level of 9700mg/L, which is more than six times the toxic level for cattle, the court was told.

Dyno Nobel accepted that five cows and a calf “probably” died because the cows drank wastewater from the Warkworth site which entered the dam and contained “sufficiently elevated concentrations of nitrate and nitrite to have caused their deaths”.

The company’s acceptance of responsibility was “reflected in its decision to compensate the farmerin the amount of $76,000 and in its expression of deepest regret to the farmerfor having accidentally caused the incident”.

Justice Moore ruled that the environmental harm caused was “substantial”, in part because of the manner of the cattle’s deaths and “the suffering experienced by them in their dying”.

The court was told the cattle could have experienced pain and significant symptoms for up to 24 hours before their deaths.

Justice Moore ruled the water pollution event was “significantly above the midpoint of the range of seriousness for such offences”, and fined the company $400,000 for the offence.

He fined the company another $60,000 for breaching its licence conditions.

Justice Moore ordered Dyno Nobel to publish a notice about the Land and Environment Court convictions which had to include that five cattle died and one cow partly aborted a dead calf, after Dyno Nobel proposed a notice that did not include a reference to the deaths.

“The notice should refer specifically to the death of the cattle and the partial abortion of a calf. It is not appropriate to soften or sanitise the description of what took place,” Justice Moore said.

Dyno Nobel was ordered to pay the EPA’s legal costs of $72,000 in addition to the penalties.