The Northern Territory Environment Protection Authority (NT EPA) has welcomed a decision by the Darwin Local Court to fine and convict a former company director for environmental offences.
The decision relates to the 2017 release of chemicals to the stormwater system and environment from a company operating industrial premises at 8 Baban Place, Pinelands.
On Friday 25 May 2018, Nicholas John Koukouvas was convicted and ordered to pay a total of $54,799 including costs and victim’s levies after pleading guilty to:
*Conducting an activity contrary to section 30(3) of the Waste Management and Pollution Control Act (WMPC Act), involving the storage of listed wastes without an environmental protection licence;
*Polluting the environment resulting in material environmental harm contrary to section 83(4) of the WMPC Act; and
*Intentionally causing contaminants to be stored so they would leak into the environment and cause environmental harm, contrary to section 83(6) of the WMPC Act.
NT EPA Chairman Dr Paul Vogel said the successful prosecution sends a number of strong messages to the wider community, particularly that poor storage of chemicals or releasing chemicals to any waterway or to the storm drainage system poses a significant threat to the ecosystems of Darwin Harbour.
Her Honour Deputy Chief Judge Elizabeth Morris noted in Court that the environment in the Northern Territory while ancient, is a fragile one.
“The NT EPA agrees entirely with that statement and we believe that environmental offences need to be recognised as the serious criminal offences that they are,” Dr Vogel said.
“This case has also reinforced that the NT EPA will hold company directors responsible, not just for their own actions but also those of their companies.
“Our legislation allows us to pursue the directors of a company and we will do that where appropriate.”
“The Court’s Decision reinforces to everyone that the Northern Territory environment is highly valued and we have strong laws to protect it.
“Companies and their Directors should already be aware that there are strict legal requirements for handling, transporting and storing wastes, including waste chemicals.
“In this instance the regulations to protect the environment simply weren’t followed at all.
“It’s a simple reality for people in Darwin, everything that leaks into or is dumped into the storm drains and waterways ends up in Darwin Harbour.
“None of us should expect or accept pollution when we are boating, fishing or are just enjoying the beach.
“I urge anyone with information about any pollution events to contact the NT EPA Pollution Hotline on 1800 064 567 so such matters can be investigated further and action taken to prevent further harm.”
Similar charges against other defendants were withdrawn after Mr Koukouvas agreed to plead guilty.