Fluoride Action Network

Melbourne Water faces fines for spills

Source: The Age (Australia) | August 29th, 2007 | By Rachel Kleinman

TAXPAYERS will be hit heavily as Melbourne Water is prosecuted over two poisonous spills into waterways in the past two years.

The authority faces hefty fines over the incidents, which polluted Sugarloaf Creek in the Yarra Ranges and Cardinia Creek in Melbourne’s south-east. Cardinia Creek is a well-known platypus haven.

The Age believes Melbourne Water will plead guilty to the magistrates court charges, following an investigation by the Environment Protection Authority. “The incidents involved significant impact to local waterways,” EPA Victoria spokesman Bruce Dawson said.

“Melbourne Water has co-operated with the EPA and took immediate action to remedy both pollution incidents.”

The authority refused to comment yesterday.

The two spills were detailed in Melbourne Water’s 2005-06 sustainability report. In the first, aluminium sulphate leaked into Sugarloaf Creek from the Winneke Treatment Plant because of a cracked pipe.

According to Melbourne Water, macro-invertebrate studies carried out after the spill indicated “no long-term damage”. Follow-up surveys would “provide an indication of fish health over time,” the report said. But Melbourne Water is yet to release the results of any follow-up surveys, despite repeated requests from The Age.

In the second leak, a tonne of fluoride seeped from a pipe in Cardinia Reservoir’s chemical plant into Cardinia Creek.

The sustainability report said that initial monitoring had shown some impact. Longer-term results have not been released.