Caltex Australia Petroleum receives record $400K fine for petrol spill

23 February, 2017

Caltex Australia Petroleum Pty Ltd has been convicted and ordered to pay $850,000 by the Land and Environment Court for a 2013 incident where 150,000 litres of unleaded petrol gushed into a bund at their Banksmeadow fuel terminal in the Port Botany Industrial Estate.

Caltex was ordered to pay a $400,000 Environmental Service Order, a record penalty for a single prosecution brought by the NSW EPA, as well as $450,000 in EPA legal costs.

EPA Chair and CEO Barry Buffier said he was pleased with the result for a serious incident that was entirely preventable.

"Caltex procedures resulted in 150,000 litres of highly flammable fuel flooding in to a bunded area which could have caused significant environmental and community impact," Buffier said.

"Fortunately that did not happen in this instance but that does not lessen the significance of the incident.

"It is the role of companies within our community to ensure that they are operating in an environmentally safe and responsible manner, and in this instance that was unfortunately not the case.

"Had Caltex applied their own required processes, then checks would have been in place to prevent an incident as serious as this from occurring."

The 2013 incident occurred when a hose disengaged during a transfer of petrol from a storage tank, creating a fountain of fuel that spilled into the bund and doused two onsite contractors who were taken to hospital. A firefighter was also taken to hospital after attending the scene.

Workers from a neighbouring industrial premises were also evacuated and local roads were closed due to the potential risk of fire or explosion from the highly flammable material.

Caltex was convicted of the offence and ordered to:

  • Pay a $400,000 Environmental Service order towards two environmental initiatives in Botany Bay: The Bayside Council's Bushcare and bushland management project and the Department of Primary Industry's project to enhance local recreational fishing opportunities;
  • Pay the EPA's legal costs of $450,000; and
  • Place publication notices detailing the offence in the Australian Financial Review, Sydney Morning Herald, Southern Courier and Caltex's next Annual Report.