A Bacchus Marsh company has told Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) its guard dog was likely ‘responsible’ for an oil slick in Werribee River which saw it fined over $7,700.
EPA South West Regional Manager, Carolyn Francis said EPA officers had traced the source of the oil to a mechanical workshop operated by Traianon Transport Pty Ltd.
“The pollution was due to a waste engine oil tank at the company’s premises leaking oil into the stormwater system, which then carried it into Werribee River,” Ms Francis said.
“The company told EPA the only plausible explanation was that one of its guard dogs had bumped open the valve of its waste oil tank, causing it to spill the contents of the tank,” she said.
“The oil travelled into a stormwater drain at the rear of the premises, which resulted in it flowing to a discharge point in Werribee River near Peelmans Lane and Parwan Road, Bacchus Marsh.
“That’s about two kilometres from the company’s workshop on Smith Street.”
Ms Francis said EPA officers discovered the oil leak after reports from concerned residents to EPA’s pollution hotline in early January.
“We responded immediately and worked with the local council to gain access to the stormwater system and trace the source of the pollution,” she said.
Ms Francis said the tank had leaked an estimated 1,200 litres of oil but it was unclear how much had entered the river, although it was significant enough to take several days to be cleaned up.
“Melbourne Water deployed booms on the river to contain the pollution and a contractor engaged by council removed oil from the stormwater system and river’s surface,” she said.
“Traianon Transport was already cleaning up the spill on their site by the time EPA officers arrived and was cooperative throughout our investigation, but this leak was preventable.
Ms Francis said businesses had a responsibility to the community and the environment to ensure they put in place appropriate systems to manage any failure of their equipment.
”Oil spills are a major hazard to the environment and toxic to aquatic life, but thanks to community reporting we could respond quickly and minimise any long-term environmental harm,” she said.
Ms Francis said the company was issued with a statutory notice requiring it to install controls to prevent future oil leaks and had since complied with this requirement.
“In this case prompt community reporting allowed EPA to find the source of the oil, even though it was some distance from where oil was seen in the river.”
EPA encourages the community to report pollution to its 1300 EPA VIC (1300 372 842) hotline or via its website at www.epa.vic.gov.au.