TRUEGAIN site owner Robert Pullinger claims he was unaware that toxic fire fighting foam presented a danger and the Environment Protection Authority should have informed him.
During a five-day hearing in the Land and Environment Court in September, where the former Truegain director represented himself, Pullinger said his company was regularly collecting oil and waste water from Williamtown RAAF Base.
Pullinger, who has never spoken publicly about the contamination, presented evidence during the hearing that the EPA was informed in May 2012 that PFAS chemicals were leaving the Williamtown base.
"At no time were we notified that these chemicals posed a significant health issue and water must be treated to a certain standard before disposal into the sewer," he said.
"As we were collecting waste oil and waters from all over NSW, and based in the Hunter Valley, I would have thought that this type of communication would have been mandatory considering the health risks that had been identified."
The Newcastle Herald reported on Tuesday that Pullinger was ordered to pay more than $1.2 million towards clean-up costs incurred by the EPA trying to manage the heavily contaminated abandoned waste oil refinery at Rutherford.
NSW authorities went public with news that toxic PFAS chemicals were leaking from the RAAF base in September 2015.
"At no point were waste operators, in particular our operating company, advised of the potential problem of collecting waste water and, in our case, waste oil and water from the base or surrounding businesses," Pullinger said.
He went on to claim that the EPA incurred unreasonable costs when it was forced to step in and make sure that contaminated runoff from the site did not continue to overflow into surrounding properties and waterways after Truegain went into liquidation in September 2016.
In particular, Pullinger pointed to $220,000 in demurrage costs for failure to unload several tankers full of PFAS contaminated water.
"There were reasonably priced options for treatment and disposal rather than the reactive and unreasonably expensive option employed by the EPA," he claimed.
But EPA staff dismissed the claims, telling the court they were preventing pollution leaving the site.
Pullinger was also critical of the EPA because the watchdog refused to give him $1.5 million in grant funding to deal with the contamination.
An investigation by the Newcastle Herald, which began in 2018, revealed that Truegain - also known as Australian Waste Oil Refineries - secretly dumped millions of litres of toxic waste into nearby creeks and onto the ground over a span of decades.
Dozens of former employees told of the company's appalling environmental practices.
Pullinger and the EPA return to the Land and Environment Court on Thursday.
An EPA spokesman said it was prosecuting Pullinger for alleged failure to comply with a clean up notice and prohibition notice issued in relation to the former Truegain site.
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