AGL's Group General Manager Upstream Gas, Mike Moraza, has reassured the Macarthur community that AGL's natural gas processing facility at Rosalind Park meets the environmental standards set down to protect the local environment and community health.
Mr Moraza said the facility, which processes natural gas extracted from the local area, meets all of the operating licence conditions set down by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH).
He said a television media report claiming that "secret documents" had been obtained indicating that AGL was involved in illegal pollution was grossly misleading.
"The issues raised by a television news report last night relate to environmental licence conditions which have been superseded and were modified in full consultation with the EPA to reflect current EPA requirements," Mr Moraza said.
"The previous levels, which were set 100 times lower than those for similar industries, were so low that it was in fact impossible to confirm the results through certified testing laboratories. In any event, the results were well below any levels that would cause harm or environmental impact.
"The Rosalind Park facility is an excellent plant which meets the OEH's Environment Protection Licence conditions. It complies fully with the modified requirements and our performance is monitored quarterly by external consultants.
"AGL is committed to protecting the environment and the communities in which we operate. We won't stand for anything less.
"In a December 2010 letter to AGL regarding the new levels, the EPA noted: "The changes to the sulphuric acid mist and sulphur trioxide limits reflect proper and efficient operation, will be achievable and will not adversely impact on local air quality in the surrounding environment."
As background, the initial compliance level set for the Rosalind Park plant in 2004 by the EPA was a maximum emission level of 1 milligram per cubic metre of sulphur trioxide (SO3). However, in 2010 AGL noted to the environmental regulator that in NSW the Protection of the Environment Operations (Clean Air) Regulation 2010 set a maximum emission level of 100 milligrams per cubic metre of sulphur trioxide for commercial and industrial activities which commenced operation after 1 January 1972.
It was then evident to both AGL and the environmental regulator that the sulphur trioxide levels for Rosalind Park had been set too low from day one. In consultation with the EPA and other state departments, the licence conditions were modified and the levels were adjusted in accordance with current EPA requirements.
"The so-called breaches reported by the media, which were said to be 30% above compliance, involved a measured level of 1.3 milligrams per cubic metre of sulphur trioxide - this was compared to the condition set at the time of 1.0 milligram per cubic metre of sulphur trioxide," Mr Moraza said. "In reality, these requirements, which have now been revised, were in fact unmeasureable according to external experts.
"The new emission standards which have been set by the environmental regulator for the Rosalind Park gas plant are 5.0 milligrams per cubic metre of sulphur trioxide at the natural gas compressors and 3.5 milligrams per cubic metre of sulphur trioxide at the natural gas dryers, which are still well below the maximum limit set for NSW. The plant complies fully with these standards."
A copy of AGL's amended Environment Protection Licence No. 12003 for the Rosalind Park gas plant and the results of AGL's compliance testing have been posted on AGL's Camden Gas Project web site. These results will be posted on the web site to monitor and confirm AGL's compliance with its environmental obligations to provide reassurance to the community.
AGL is one of Australia's leading integrated renewable energy companies and is taking action toward creating a sustainable energy future for our investors, communities and customers. Drawing on 175 years of experience, AGL operates retail and merchant energy businesses, power generation assets and an upstream gas portfolio. AGL has one of Australia's largest retail energy and dual fuel customer bases. AGL has a diverse power generation portfolio including base, peaking and intermediate generation plants, spread across traditional thermal generation as well as renewable sources including hydro, wind, landfill gas and biomass. AGL is Australia's largest private owner and operator of renewable energy assets and is looking to further expand this position by exploring a suite of low emission and renewable energy generation development opportunities.