Multinational chemical company Orica has been fined almost $500,000 over the release of cyanide off the central Queensland coast.
Orica released illegally high levels of the toxic chemical at its Gladstone facility more than 200 times between March last year and February this year.
The company pleaded guilty to four breaches of the Environmental Protection Act, including the release of cyanide through stormwater and for not testing for the chemical for the 20 months up to February.
In Gladstone, Magistrate Russell Warfield issued the company with a $432,000 fine, ruling over half must go towards conservation groups.
Queensland Environment Minister Andrew Powell says he welcomes the decision.
"This is about the fact that a company has breached the environmental conditions that were imposed upon it," he said.
"That kind of behaviour is not acceptable and that kind of behaviour will be dealt with by this Government." Orica says there is no evidence the breaches caused environmental damage and it will put $30 million into upgrading its Yarwun site.
Premier Campbell Newman says the hefty fine should serve as a warning to other businesses.
Mr Newman says the State Government is committed to protecting the environment.
"The fine of $430,000 is a significant fine - I welcome that," he said.
"I hope business in Queensland sees as a strong signal this Government, while it is pro-business and pro-jobs and investment, will not allow people to hurt our environment." 'Strong message' Michael McCabe from the Capricorn Conservation Council says it sends a strong message.
"We're very pleased to see that the Environmental Protection Act does have some teeth that severe penalties are applied to people who breach or who fail to notify of breaches," he said.
"Penalties of this nature do actually make a mark.
"If you fine a company $10,000, it's really not a significant penalty.
"These sorts of levels not only is it a financial disincentive to do the wrong thing, it's also a public reputation issue."