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Viva Energy faces fine for 2016 leak from fuel storage facility into Sydney Harbour

18 March 2019

Viva Energy, one of Australia's largest energy companies, has been fined A$100,000 for an oil spill in Sydney Harbour that took more than six months to clean up. The leak, at the Gore Bay fuel storage, resulted in about 800 litres of fuel oil spilling onto nearby land, with about 500 litres of that entering the waters at Gore Cove, near Greenwich.

Gore Bay storage facility - Image: Viva Energy
Gore Bay storage facility - Image: Viva Energy

In a judgement by Justice Tim Moore in the Land and Environment Court, the company will also be required to publish an admission it was "unaware of, and has been unable to locate records of, any inspections, testing or maintenance work" on the corroded pipeline that leaked on December 30, 2016.

The fuel leaked from a pipeline that was wrapped by insulation that concealed the corrosion. The company accepted in its guilty plea that the equipment was "no longer fit-for-purpose and that it had not been maintained for its intended purpose".

Viva Energy bought the facility from Shell in 2014. The Gore Bay site has stored petroleum products since 1901.

"We regret and apologise that this incident occurred," a Viva spokesman said, adding the company accepted the court's decision.
"Viva Energy undertook a comprehensive investigation into the incident and  . . . we have strengthened our processes and operations to ensure a similar incident does not occur in future," he said.

"These measures include an additional program of inspection, testing and maintenance on pipelines, and works to the concrete deck and kerb along the terminal’s water frontage."

The company had started removing the insulation around pipes in late-2014 but the program had not reached the pipeline that leaked.

The acting Chief Environmental Regulator at the Environment Protection Authority, Giselle Howard, welcomed Viva's penalty as a "significant fine and one which we hope will remind all companies operating on the Harbour to make sure they prevent environmental harm”.


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