Introducing a levy for the dumping of coal-ash would result in a significant reduction in the volume of the pollutant across the region, environment advocacy group Hunter Community Environment Centre believes.
Coal-ash, a byproduct of coal-fired power generation, makes up about 20 per cent of Australia's national waste-stream and takes up large tracts of land around Lake Macquarie and the Upper Hunter.
The region's power stations have been repeatedly fined for the poor management of coal ash.
In another instance, AGL-Macquarie's Bayswater power station was fined for ash-related pollution including a spill into Bayswater Creek in 2016.
The company has cited the need to improve infrastructure for the management of coal ash among the reasons for a $30million upgrade of Bayswater power station, which is currently on exhibition.
The EPA fined Origin Energy's Eraring power station in 2017 after ash was repeatedly blown into surrounding suburbs in September of 2016.
"Without intervention from the EPA to improve the regulation of coal-ash and support energy companies to reuse more and dump less, we can expect to see pollution events like this continue indefinitely," Hunter Community Environment Centre Spokesperson Jo Lynch said.
"The government should apply levy on the dumping of coal-ash so energy companies have an incentive to deal with this mounting waste issue.
Ms Lynch said "Coal-ash can be used as a substitute for limestone in cement and in a range of building products and is exempt from regulations that apply to all other types of waste dumped in NSW to encourage its reuse rather than disposal."
"The introduction of a fee or levy, under the Load-Based Licencing scheme for every tonne of coal-ash dumped would see drastic reduction in the volume of coal-ash dumped in the first place and provide a real incentive for energy companies to make use of the growing market for their coal-ash waste,"
An EPA spokesman said the authority required power stations to meet legally enforceable licence conditions relating to air, noise, water, waste and land contamination. This includes stringent conditions for coal ash disposed of in ash dams.
The EPA can and does take strong regulatory action to ensure compliance with licence conditions.
Coal ash can be used as a resource for beneficial purposes and is subject to strict conditions, authorised under the Coal Ash Order. For example, coal ash is currently being used as an aggregate replacement in concrete. That reuse is strictly regulated.
The Newcastle Herald previously reported the state government has no plans to remediate coal ash dams at Eraring and Vales Point power stations following their closure despite a growing body of evidence pointing to the harmful effects of coal ash.
Similar remediation projects undertaken elsewhere have cost hundreds of millions of dollars to complete.
Under the terms for the sale of the power station assets, Origin Energy and Delta Electricity are liable for the cost of remediating pollution which they cause during their period of operation.
The state government remains liable for the coal ash pollution that occurred prior to the 2015 sale.