EPA says Ash Dam topping nothing to worry about

An EPA supplied map showing the location of the ash dams near Vales Point Power Station and the former Munmorah Power Station. Archive 2017

The Vales Point Power Station operates under strict Environment Protection Licence conditions to protect the community and the environment, according to the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA).

Wyong Regional Chronicle sent the EPA a list of specific questions following an anonymous call from a member of the public who expressed concerns about the safety of the walls of the ash dam at Vales Point. In particular, the EPA was asked: whether or not Delta is accepting spoil (VENM or ENM) from the NorthConnex project; whether it was appropriately licensed/ authorised to accept that spoil; whether or not it was placing the spoil on top of its ash dam; and how much spoil it was accepting.

The EPA was also asked whether the structure of the ash dam at Vales Point was stable and safe or had it been in any way compromised? If the stability, safety, or structural integrity of the ash dam had, in any way been compromised, the EPA was asked to provide details and outline steps being taken to fix the problem. The Wyong Regional Chronicle also sought confirmation that the ash dam at Vales Point was not lined.

“Environmental monitoring is carried out to protect against offsite impacts,” the EPA’s written response said. “If breaches of these conditions occur, the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) will take action. “The EPA is not aware of any specifi c safety, stability or integrity issues associated with the ash dam and will continue to monitor the Vales Point Power Station and the way it manages the ash dam to ensure there is no impact on the local community or environment.

“Vales Point Power Station’s Environment Protection Licence permits the receipt and use of waste materials covered by a resource recovery order and exemption, including spoil generated by the NorthConnex project, to cap and rehabilitate the unlined ash dam. “The waste material must be applied in accordance with management plans and relevant orders and exemptions. “Strict quality control procedures are in place to ensure the material arriving on site is fit for purpose. “ Environmental monitoring is carried out to protect against offsite impacts.”

Source: Media statement, Aug 21 EPA media unit