2015 June: Vineyard Operator Convicted in Orange Court: Pesticide: Chlorpyrifos

Vineyard operator convicted & fined $15,000 in Orange Local Court

Media release: 26 June 2015

Vineyard operator Rex D’Aquino has been convicted and fined $15,000 in Orange Local Court and ordered to pay the prosecutor’s costs of $20,000, after pleading guilty to polluting waters on Highland Heritage Estate, near Orange.

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) prosecuted Mr D’Aquino after he directed that the residual contents of 21 drums, containing the pesticide chlorpyrifos, be emptied into a constructed stormwater drain on the Estate property in January 2014.  The drain flows downwards to Summer Hill Creek.

Mr D’Aquino pleaded guilty to one charge of polluting waters contrary to section 120(1) of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997.

“Chlorpyrifos, an organophosphorus pesticide used to protect crops such as cotton, is highly toxic and poses a significant risk to aquatic life, animals and humans when released into the environment in high concentrations,” said Director South Branch Gary Whytcross.

“The EPA prosecuted Mr D’Aquino because his actions posed a real risk of harm to the environment, within a drinking water catchment.

“When handling pesticide containers it is essential to ensure that they are rinsed thoroughly and that any residual contents and the container are disposed of appropriately.

“The EPA stresses to all business operators and individuals that they have a responsibility to think about their actions and the potential impacts on the environment and the community.”

The EPA must take a range of factors into account before delivering a proportionate regulatory response, including the degree of environmental harm, whether or not there are any real or potential health impacts, if the action of the offender was deliberate, compliance history, public interest and best environmental outcomes.

For more information about the EPA’s regulatory tools, see the EPA Compliance Policy https://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/legislation/prosguid.htm.

Contact: EPA Public Affairs