Primo to pay $150,000 after Cooks River discharge

NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA)

Primo Foods must pay $150,000 towards community projects in a legally binding Enforceable Undertaking with the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) after wastewater from its Western Sydney facility allegedly polluted the Cooks River.

The meat processing company reported the incident after a blocked trade waste drain on-site led to 1,000L to 5,000L of contaminated wastewater escaping from a stormwater drain and entering the Cooks River on 8 November 2022.

In response, Primo will contribute $150,000 to Canterbury-Bankstown Council projects designed to improve the health and water quality of the Cooks River and the Cooks River Foreshore. These initiatives include the Litter Booms Project and a Coastal Management Program.

EPA Director of Operations Adam Gilligan said companies must be held to account for environmental incidents, even if they are unintentional.

“While Primo undertook clean-up efforts to remove water polluted with animal products from the river and accepts full responsibility, the EPA is concerned that the incident could have been avoided,” Mr Gilligan said.

“We are pleased the company has now taken proactive measures to prevent further harm to the local ecosystem, such as installing a new monitoring system including an alarm and increasing the frequency of jet blasting of all trade waste drains, from once a year to twice a year.”

Primo has also agreed to pay the EPA’s legal and investigative costs of $46,620 and replace two penstock valves to control the flow of contaminated water on the premises at an estimated cost of $190,000.

Enforceable Undertakings are voluntary, legally binding written agreements enforced by the Land and Environment Court to achieve environmental compliance.

The EPA encourages the community to report potential water pollution incidents to the Environment Line on 131 555.

/Public Release.