$133,000 fine for environmental pollution in Sydney waters

22 October 2020

Transport for NSW and the Land and Environment Court has sent a strong message to would-be polluters after a protracted investigation into illegal waste management in Sydney waters.

NSW Maritime A/ Executive Director Andrew Mogg said East Coast Wharf Constructions Pty Ltd and its director, Benjamin King, 45, were charged with transportation of waste to a site that was not a waste facility, and occupying a place and using it as a waste facility under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act.

“Transport for NSW investigators had Mr King and his company in their sights from as far back as 2015 when large sections of a pontoon which had been demolished by the company were stored at Mr King’s mooring, and were subsequently found on the seabed at Pittwater,” Mr Mogg said.

“Underwater searches using divers and hydrographic survey found almost three tonnes of inorganic building material in sections measuring from 7.5 to 9 metres in length.

“After the longest ever maritime investigation by Transport for NSW, we were able to secure a prosecution. The court has issued a significant penalty for this kind of environmental damage in maritime waters,” he said.

Mr King, who pleaded guilty on behalf of himself and his company, will be required to pay $133,000 in fines, plus costs which are yet to be determined, in what will hopefully become a significant deterrent for others who might think about where they put their rubbish out of boats.

Specialist in environment and planning law, Dr Nick Brunton, from Norton Rose Fulbright Australia, said he was proud to have been involved in the maritime prosecution.

“Once this case becomes known, it will send a strong message to those foolish enough to consider our waters are a waste disposal facility,” Dr Brunton said.

“Some 20 years ago I wrote my doctorate on coastal water pollution and it’s nice to feel that progress is being made to stop it.”

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