Queensland Alumina Ltd pleaded guilty yesterday to causing serious environmental harm after an industrial incident in a Gladstone alumina refinery last year. The court has fined the company $90,000 plus $20,000 in costs.
The incident in Queensland which caused the dispersion of caustic vapors around six kilometers of the plant is seen to be an accident due to lack of maintenance. Magistrate Damien Carroll agreed that the company was a good corporate citizen, but some of its operations were potentially harmful.
Concern over the air quality in Gladstone by the residents had made the fine stick. The Department of Environment and Resource Management was pleased with the fine, even if there were no convictions as per Reuben Carlos from the department.
The droplets containing sodium hydroxide and four other minerals damaged 279 cars, which cost Queensland Alumina Ltd $428,000 for repairs. No illness, injury or damage to the environment was reported. The fine was high enough to cover the losses and the court costs.