Orica fined more than $750,000 for pollution; ACCC points finger at Qantas and Virgin over carbon tax claims: Midday Roundup

Orica fined more than $750,000 for pollution; ACCC points finger at Qantas and Virgin over carbon tax claims: Midday Roundup

Chemical company Orica has been hit with a fine of more than $750,000 by the Land and Environment Court for pollution leaks from its Kooragang Island and Botany plants.

The most serious incident was the leakage of toxic hexavalent chromium near Newcastle in 2011.

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) said the sum was the “highest penalty” that has been handed down for a matter, according to The Australian.

“The EPA is pleased with this outcome today; it does represent a significant penalty for Orica for a series of events that really did concern the local communities, particularly in Newcastle but also for Botany,” EPA chief environmental regulator Mark Gifford told media, including The Australian, after the decision was handed down yesterday.

Orica will pay $175,000 to the National Parks and Wildlife Service as part of the ruling, to contribute to the Tomago Wetland Rehabilitation project to restore the ecological character of the wetland.

ACCC points finger at Qantas and Virgin over carbon tax claims

Qantas and Virgin can expect to come under closer scrutiny by the consumer watchdog in relation to any price changes resulting from the abolition of the carbon tax, reports Business Spectator.

In an update to the federal government about its monitoring of carbon tax claims, the ACCC singled out the two airlines as two companies that have publicly said their domestic airfares would need to increase to recoup costs associated with the carbon tax.

“The ACCC is making enquiries to determine whether the airlines’ statements in relation their recovery of carbon tax costs may be misleading,” said the ACCC’s report.

Other companies can also expect to answer questions from the ACCC over the carbon tax, as the watchdog will be ensuring those firms who said they needed to increase prices when the tax was introduced, now reduce them.

Aussie shares watched with caution

Local shares have opened flat, with analysts tipping the ‘quiet before the storm’ before key data is released later this week.

“Caution is the preeminent theme across global markets at the moment, as investors anticipate a spate of key economic data due later in the week, amid a backdrop of persistent geopolitical concerns,” said William Leys, sales trader at CMC Markets.

“Overnight in the US, both the Dow and the S&P 500 posted modest gains, whilst the NASDAQ edged lower. Data was mixed, with the July Services PMI read bettering expectations, while US pending home sales came in below par.”

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark was up 1.1 points to 5578.5 points at 12.03 AEDT. On Monday, the Dow Jones closed 22.02 points down, a 0.13% drop to 16,982.6 points.

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