EPA probe into creek fuel spill

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UP to 200 litres of diesel fuel spilled from the United Terminals’ Hastings depot into Olivers Creek last week from what is believed to be a damaged pipe flange.

Earlier, it was reported that 100-1000 litres had escaped from the Barclay Crescent site before the leak was stopped about 1pm on Monday 31 July.

United’s COO David Szymczak said the seepage was mostly contained in bunds – protective earth or concrete walls – designed to trap fuel overflows.

“All our tanks are in bunded areas but, on this occasion, a small amount – in the 200-litre category – seeped out into an unbunded area,” Mr Szymczak said. The company “called in the experts and emergency services” to help contain the spill – the first at the site since the company took over in 2008.

Environment Protection Authority Victoria senior media advisor John Rees said officers found that a “significant volume” of lost fuel was captured by interceptor drains and a trap. A small, unknown amount had flowed into Olivers Creek.

“EPA officers observed a clean-up process had taken place, which originally was aimed at protecting the nearby mangroves with booms and surface water removal,” he said.

“Significant work has been undertaken to protect the adjacent mangroves, which appear to have been largely unaffected. No known human health impacts were noted but a strong smell of fuel was present in the immediate area.”

Mr Rees said preventative measures remained in place in Olivers Creek under EPA advice and the clean-up was “well advanced”, Friday. He said United Petroleum was “fully cooperating with the EPA”.

“Investigations are ongoing into how the spill occurred and the results of that investigation will determine what actions are appropriate,” he said.

Port of Hastings CEO Malcolm Geier said after seeing the size and nature of the spill “it was determined that no recovery action was necessary in the bay.”

First published in the Western Port News – 8 August 2017

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