AGL Macquarie has been fined $100,000 after breaching coal ash management regulations at its Bayswater and Liddell power stations.
The money will be spent on Upper Hunter air quality and weed eradication projects as part of an enforceable undertaking with the NSW Environment Protection Authority.
The company self-reported that it had used the wrong sampling methodology of coal ash at its power stations in January 2019 after becoming aware that it had not fully complied with sampling and analysis required under a 2014 coal ash resource recovery order.
It has agreed to pay $82,000 to assist with the installation of air monitoring equipment in the Upper Hunter, which will contribute to the statewide air quality monitoring network.
It will also contribute $18,000 to the Singleton Shire Landcare Network. The money will go towards the Col Fisher Park weed eradication project.
In addition it will pay the EPA's investigation and legal costs of $37,356, undertake staff training and place notices of the enforceable undertaking in local media.
EPA director of waste compliance Greg Sheehy said coal ash could contain high concentrations of heavy metals and other contaminants and needed to be handled in accordance with the resource recovery orders to protect the community and the environment.
"AGL Macquarie self-reported that the sampling and analysis of their coal ash had not met the standards and frequency required under the EPA's Coal Ash Order of 2014," Mr Sheehy said.
"While in this instance it was assessed that there was no human health risk or concerns for the ecology or aquatic ecosystems, it is vital that companies follow proper processes when dealing with coal ash."
An AGL spokesman said the company took its environmental compliance obligations extremely seriously.
"Early last year, we identified that our coal ash sampling was not fully compliant with the requirements of the Coal Ash Order 2014 and self-reported it to the EPA," he said.
We engaged external experts to conduct extensive sampling of the coal ash and reviewed our historical results. We engaged another external expert to carry out a comprehensive human health and ecological risk assessment which confirmed that the beneficial reuse of coal ash did not pose any risks to human health or the environment."
He said the company had also worked with the EPA to update its sampling plans and procedures.
"We have worked cooperatively with the EPA to ensure we comply with all of our obligations," he said.