Monitoring the environment

Hazelwood mine fire water, soil and ash sampling results, 24 February 2014

These are the results of sampling completed on 24 February 2014.

Samples were taken from the following locations:

  1.  Residential 1
    1. Rainwater tank
    2. Soil sample
  2. Residential 2
    1. Soil sample
  3. Residential 3
    1. Soil sample
  4. Morwell Wetlands
    1. Water sample
  5. Morwell East air monitoring station, Hourigan Road
    1. Water sample from the creek
    2. Soil sample

db: dry base (i.e., after drying to remove the moisture).

EPA has compiled the results of this sampling, including comparisons with the first set of results from 18 February, in 20140224 Water, soil and ash results (PDF, 227KB).

Key points

  • This report includes analysis data received from the 24 February 2014 sampling as well as any previous analytical data.
  • EPA’s previous advice showing no levels of concern in the ash, soil and water samples stands.
  • Weekly sampling and analysis will include a focus on background levels within waters (including rainwater tanks) and soils in the region, but outside of the main affected area. 
  • Specific ash sampling and analysis will also be a focus. 

Interpretation of water samples

No polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were detected in the rainwater tank sample.

EPA has been made aware of public concern over mercury levels in the ash. These results show no detectable mercury in the water samples.

The results from the water tank were generally very good compared to drinking water standards. In one sample, it was notable that the levels of lead did exceed the drinking water standards. This may be due to the use of lead flashing on roofing as opposed to being in from the ash as no other levels like this were seen. Followup sampling will include sampling of rainwater tanks outside the area immediately adjacent to the fire for comparison.

The results for wetlands and creeks were typical of a semi urbanised area like Morwell in that they showed some metals that exceeded the trigger values for the protection of aquatic ecosystems. This is a trigger level for ecosystem health and it is more stringent than the Recreational water quality guidelines. Followup weekly sampling will include further locations for areas for comparison. 

Interpretation of soil and ash samples

For those contaminants where comparison values are available, once again, all values are below the standard values (HIL-A) that would be appropriate for residential activities.

No PAHs were detected in any of the samples.

EPA has been made aware of public concern over mercury levels in the ash. These results show no detectable mercury in the soil/ash samples.

Further work has been done to compile the levels of these contaminants that would be expected in the Morwell Open Cut Brown Coal.  The following table is a summary of the physical and chemical properties of the brown coal from the Morwell open cut mine (from: The Science of Victorian Brown Coal).

Element (mg/kg) db
Antimony (Sn) 0.07
Arsenic (As) 0.16
Barium (Ba) 122
Beryllium (Be) <0.05
Boron (B) 24
Cadmium (Cd) 0.03
Chromium (Cr) 0.3
Cobalt (Co) 0.2
Copper (Cu) 2.4
Lead (Pb) 0.3
Manganese (Mn) 40
Mercury (Hg) 0.34
Molybdenum (Mo) 0.2
Nickel (Ni) 1.2
Selenium (Se) 0.6
Silver (Ag) <0.2
Strontium (Sr) 94
Tin (Sn) 0.07
Vanadium (V) 0.3
Zinc (Zn) 1.4

Page last updated on 17 Sep 2014