Ampol proposes to spend more than $17 million upgrading the stormwater management system at its Kurnell fuel terminal following a major flooding incident nearly two years ago.

A development application (DA) was lodged with Sutherland Shire Council this month.

The DA said the improvements were are required “following a significant flooding event in April 2022, where stormwater runoff from Kurnell Terminal inundated the area of the existing wastewater treatment plant and flooded the separators and associated sumps”.

“It is estimated that 9200 litres of hydrocarbon escaped from the wastewater treatment plant towards downstream receivers,” the DA stated.

“The project aims to increase the capacity of the wastewater treatment plant to withstand a 1 in 500 year flood event and improve the site’s resilience to climate change.”

During the flooding event, oily water spilled onto Captain Cook Drive and surrounding streets, Marton Park Wetland, adjoining creeks and mangroves at Quibray Bay, residences and public spaces including the Kurnell Girl Guides Hall.

Following the spill, residents reported symptoms of headaches, nausea and eye and throat irritation, while two Dusky Moorhen birds were found covered in an oily substance and subsequently died.

Ampol initially stated 700 litres of oily wastewater had overflowed, but following investigation, revised the figure to 9200 litres.

In 2023, the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) said it had identified three alleged breaches of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act by polluting land and water, and Ampol failing to immediately notify the relevant authorities.

However, instead of prosecuting, the EPA accepted the corporate giant’s proposal for an Enforceable Undertaking – an option prescribed in legislation – which would see four community projects funded at a cost of $700,000.

Ampol also agreed to pay the EPA’s legal and investigative costs of $86,000.

The proposed works in the DA include:

  • A 1.5 to 1.8 metre high levee wall around the oily water system and adjacent retention basin.
  • Two new stormwater pump pits with high-density polyethylene discharge piping to three vacant tank compounds, which will serve as retention basins for excess stormwater.
  • Two additional pump stations on existing pits.
  • A total of 13 new pumps.

Key environmental matters assessed in the DA “include potential impacts on historic heritage, noise and vibration, biodiversity, soils, groundwater and contamination, surface water and flooding, waste management, Aboriginal heritage, air quality, and traffic and access”.

“Visual impacts and socio-economic impacts are not expected, though have been considered to demonstrate impacts are likely to be negligible,” the DA stated.

“Where environmental impacts exist because of the project, these are considered to have been appropriately managed and mitigated…”

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