A PETROL company has been slapped with a hefty fine after a serious leak at a service station.

Puma Energy (Australia) Fuels Pty Ltd was ordered to pay $75,000 with no conviction recorded, as well as more than $4600 for investigative and legal costs to the Department of Environment and Science.

The company pleaded guilty to one count of unlawfully depositing a prescribed water contaminant in waters in Townsville Magistrate Court today.

The other charge of wilfully and unlawfully causing environmental harm was dropped because of a lack of evidence.

In 2016, 5000 litres of petroleum hydrocarbons was released from a tank at a petrol station in Cardwell which seeped into groundwater and then migrated to the Cardwell Beach Foreshore, which is adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage area and Marine Park.

Magistrate Viviana Keegan said Puma Energy had already spent $400,000 to remedy the potential harm.

“The defendant did more than it needed to … co-operated with the department in participating in an interview and they have now improved their systems as to avoid the situation occurring in future,” she said.

“You are a good corporate citizen that takes its corporate social responsibility seriously and that prior to this matter coming before the court it has supported the YWAM medical ships that are based in Townsville, the Starlight Foundation and recently the drought relief.

“To make it clear the community acting through the court denounces this sort of conduct.”

The court heard complaints had been made to the Cardwell Shire Council, which then contacted the petrol station.

The station denied there were any anomalies in their data, which prompted the council to involve the department.

Ms Keegan said Puma Energy complied with an emergency direction notice, a clean-up notice and environmental protection notice.

Prosecutor Justin Greggery QC representing the Department of Environment and Science said the leak was a serious example of “recklessness”.

Defence barrister Peter Callaghan said the leak was not intentional.

“What can be said … it wasn’t something that was done out of a commercial motive, cutting corners or for saving expenses,” he said.

“Reckless certainly, but falling short of those cases where a decision has been made to save money.”

Extracted from Courier Mail