PORT Stephens mayor Bruce MacKenzie’s family-owned business, Macka’s Sand at Salt Ash, is the only quarry in a Department of Planning audit of NSW sand quarries to record high-risk non-compliance with its approval conditions.
The second-largest of 19 state quarries audited by the department is also the only one to receive unannounced surveillance inspections by department compliance officers, after the business recorded truck movements above its approved limits.
Macka’s Sand, with approval to extract two million tonnes of sand a year, recorded two high risk, five moderate risk, two low risk and five administrative non-compliances, in the audit released on Monday.
By comparison the largest quarry, Boral’s Peppertree quarry at Marulan with a 3.5 million tonne per year extraction limit, recorded five low risk and four administrative non-compliances.
The department defined a high risk non-compliance as one of "considerable environmental significance” that had to be dealt with and resolved as a matter of priority.
The audit campaign of 19 out of the state’s 28 approved sand quarries found a 92 per cent compliance rate, and quarries generally were operating at a high rate of compliance, a department spokesperson said.
The audit between May and August last year occurred as the NSW Government comes under pressure to ensure 66 million tonnes of fine sand is available for major Sydney road and construction projects over the next 20 years. The two largest Sydney suppliers are expected to cease operations over the next five years.
“Once both sources are exhausted, the Sydney market would likely experience a supply shortage of sand for a range of construction products,” the department said.
The audit found Macka’s Sand complied with truck movement conditions on each of the unannounced surveillance inspections after the initial non-compliance was recorded.
In July last year Macka’s Sand applied to increase truck movements from 10 per hour to 28 between 5am and 7am, and from 16 to 48 between 7 and 10am. The Roads and Maritime Services objected, saying safe mergers to Nelson Bay Road would be a problem.
The NSW Environment Protection Authority is running an ‘‘ongoing criminal investigation’’ into activities at Macka’s Sand, after asbestos was found in waste piles in October, and stockpiles of waste up to eight metres high, 40 metres wide and 100 metres long were found near and in waterways in 2013.
Mr MacKenzie said that “as far as I’m concerned we’re complying with all the conditions of the development application”.