Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has fined South Geelong company Hoare Bros Pty Ltd more than $7,500 for illegally discharging contaminated wastewater from a wash bay at its Barwon Terrace site.
EPA Acting South West Manager Tanya McAteer said EPA had launched an investigation following a community report that an open stormwater drain in Wood Street, which feeds into the Barwon River, had a strong diesel odour and a hydrocarbon sheen.
“EPA officers were able to trace the source back through the drainage system to a wash bay at the company’s premises and found it was using a degreaser product containing 50 per cent petroleum diesel to wash down heavy earthmoving equipment,” Ms McAteer said.
“EPA officers also found that the wash bay had no controls in place to prevent wastewater from entering a stormwater system and discharging directly from premises.”
Ms McAteer said it was disappointing that a prominent business within the Geelong community had no controls in place to prevent contaminated wastewater from being discharged into the stormwater system and potentially the Barwon River.
“Hoare Bros undertakes civil construction works, including drainage systems, and should have had a better understanding than most about where its wastewater was being discharged to,” Ms McAteer said.
Ms McAteer said the labelling on the degreaser product, which the company said it had only used for one month, had a number of warnings on its packaging about releasing it into the environment.
“The main ingredient in the degreaser, petroleum distallate, can be toxic to aquatic life. Ensuring the health of Victoria’s waterways and aquatic life is the responsibility of all members of the community in maintaining them for future generations. Industry needs to be vigilant in its responsibilities by understanding any possible impacts it could have on the environment,” Ms McAteer said.
Ms McAteer said Hoare Bros Pty Ltd had engaged a contractor to educt water out of stormwater system at the time of incident.
“The company has also ceased using its wash bay until it has installed an oil/water separator and has connected the premises to a trade waste system with the local water authority,” Ms McAteer said.
Members of the public should continue to report suspected pollution to EPA on 1300 372 842 (1300 EPA VIC) or at www.epa.vic.gov.au