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Thursday, April 11, 2024

Werribee River Oil Spill Investigated By Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

The Environmental Protection Agency is investigating an oil spill discovered in the Werribee River The spill was first observed in the river segment close to the Maltby Bypass in Werribee on Tuesday March 19, with authorities suspecting the source to be upstream of the Concorde Avenue industrial estate.

A spill, initially noticed by a member of the public at Werribee Zoo, has prompted coordinated efforts from environmental authorities. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported that despite difficulty in pinpointing the source due to the lack of flow from the most probable outlet, a sheen spanning approximately 100 meters was observed.

An EPA spokesperson mentioned detecting a hydrocarbon odor in the affected part of the river. Subsequently, Melbourne Water, as a precautionary measure, deployed an absorbent boom to mitigate potential future outflows.

Melbourne Water’s response included cleaning the impacted area downstream of the Maltby Bypass and installing a hydrocarbon boom to prevent further spillage.

According to an EPA spokesperson, there is no longer a visible hydrocarbon slick on the river water, except for residue against the absorbent booms. Continuous monitoring of this river section will guide future response adjustments.

“Working with zoo officials EPA officers saw the sheen extended for about 100 metres but there was no flow from the most likely outlet making it difficult to identify a source,”

“We noted a hydrocarbon odour in the affected part of the river. Melbourne Water also attended hand as a precaution placed an absorbent boom to capture any future similar outflows.” the spokesperson said.

The affected river stretch harbors the isolated Werribee population of platypus, the southernmost in Melbourne. Such spills are known to jeopardise the invertebrates that are crucial for the platypus’ sustenance.

Expressing apprehension, Werribee riverkeeper John Forrester emphasised the spill’s potential repercussions on platypus and other river-dwelling species.

He highlighted the significance of this river stretch for platypus, especially in facilitating the recruitment of young platypus downstream to Tarneit.

“Our latest reports tell the story of how important that reach of the river is for platypus, and the crucial role that part plays in recruitment of young platypus for the lower Werribee River, all the way up to Tarneit.’ says Forrester

Health Of The Werribee River

The Werribee River is currently facing several challenges from increasing urbanisation within its catchment, contributing to increased erosion, salinity and a loss of habitat.

River regulation has had a detrimental impact on aquatic biodiversity, and disruptions to river flow regimes can negatively affect organisms through habitat changes.

Over several years, the health of the Werribee River has been a cause of concern for Council and the
Wyndham community. Environmental groups have reported greater than usual quantities of litter
collecting at drain outfalls and amongst aquatic vegetation around the Werribee Town Centre.

The poor visual state of the river has caused many to question if the river is as sick as it looks, why it is in its current condition and what could be done to improve its health in the future.

While alarmed by the spill, the Werribee River Association (WRA) commended the collaborative efforts of the EPA and Melbourne Water in safeguarding the river.

The WRA conducted an inspection of the cleaned-up site and pledged cooperation with the involved agencies to prevent similar incidents in the future.

Meanwhile, as part of the Victorian Environmental Flows Monitoring and Assessment Program (VEFMAP), Melbourne Water is monitoring fish in the Lower Werribee River to understand the population and condition of fish species.

Editorial Team
Editorial Team
The Werrribee News editorial team is managed by Austech Media Inc and the journalist at Tech Business News - Australia
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