Shipping company fined after untreated sewage dump

A Panama-based shipping company received a $15,000 fine after pleading guilty to dumping 113 litres of untreated sewage into the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park off Hay Point, near Mackay.

The owners of the Good Horizon pleaded guilty in the Mackay Magistrates Court on 3 February for the offence that breached the Transport Operations (Marine Pollution) Act 1995 (Sec 50A Discharge of Sewage).

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Field Management Director Chris Cochrane and Maritime Safety Queensland General Manager Angus Mitchel agreed the court outcome was a good example of cross-collaboration between their agencies and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.

“This outcome is testament to a cooperative, multi-agency approach across Australian and Queensland government agencies, which enhances our ability to best protect the World Heritage Area,” Mr Cochrane said.

The incident occurred at 4am on 20 November 2018 when the bulk carrier anchored off Hay Point in a General Use Zone, and was detected later that day by an AMSA surveyor who boarded the vessel while berthed at the Hay Point Coal Terminal to do a Port State Control inspection.

The court heard the ship’s Fourth Engineer pumped untreated sewage overboard that morning after the company requested photos of the sewerage treatment plant to inspect its condition.

According to court documents, the Fourth Engineer believed the sewage he released was treated, but had not received any training on the equipment and didn’t follow the Operators Manual.

As the incident occurred in Queensland waters, specifically within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, the matter was then referred to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to further investigate and take to court, with it prosecuting under Queensland state pollution offences.

In his sentencing, the Magistrate commented the Great Barrier Reef is precious to the community and the world and the community expected that efforts would be taken to avoid damage to the Reef.

The $15,000 is nearly four-times higher than any previous penalty in Queensland and takes into account the subsequent training the company and staff have undertaken.

Contact:

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
Media team | (07) 4750 0846 | media@gbrmpa.gov.au
Twitter:@gbrmarinepark

Note to journalists:
File footage:
If using file footage for overlay, please do not include recreational or commercial vessels — these could be incorrectly interpreted as the subject of this media release.