Mines are being reminded by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to ensure their operations do not disturb neighbours with excessive noise, particularly at night.
The warning follows a $15,000 fine being issued to Wambo Coal Pty Ltd for allegedly exceeding its noise limits by three decibels in September 2020.
EPA Executive Director Regulatory Operations Carmen Dwyer said the mine reported an exceedance of noise limits on 8 September 2020.
“Follow-up monitoring two nights later showed that Wambo was continuing to exceed the noise limits set out in their environment protection licence. They did not take sufficient steps to shut down equipment to mitigate noise, which is very concerning considering their heavy machinery did not have noise reduction equipment fitted.
“The mine recorded eight noise alarms between 9pm and midnight on 10 September 2020,” she said.
“Noise limits are set to provide protection for the community and the EPA takes any breaches of these conditions extremely seriously.”
The EPA has issued Wambo with an official caution for noise exceedances on 8 September 2020 and fined the mine for exceeding its licence noise limit of 38dB by 3 decibels on 10 September 2020.
The NSW Government’s noise assessment criteria for state significant mining considers noise exceedances of 3-5 decibels to have a moderate impact on residents.
Ms Dwyer said all mining operations needed to be mindful of their impact on the surrounding community.
“The EPA hopes this fine reminds coal mines to review their procedures and make sure they manage their noise below their set limits to ensure they are good neighbours.
“Noise can have a negative impact on the community, particularly at night.”
Open-cut coal mines in the Hunter region are required to have an independent consultant undertake monthly night-time monitoring and install real-time noise monitoring devices that warn when noise is approaching set limits.
Penalty notices are one of a number of tools the EPA can use to achieve environmental compliance, including formal warnings, official cautions, licence conditions, notices and directions and prosecutions.
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