Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has fined a Campbellfield company almost $8000 over a food product spill that threatened fish and other wildlife in Merri Creek.
EPA Metro Manager Peter Kerr, said the spill of tomato salsa from Baxters Foods Australia P/L, of Jesica Road, Campbellfield, exposed the lack of a proper maintenance plan and incident control procedures at the factory.
“While tomato salsa might not be an immediate threat to human health, the concentration found in the stormwater drain near the factory was high enough to reduce the oxygen content of creek water and threaten aquatic life such as frogs, fish, insects and algae,” Mr Kerr said.
“From that drain, the spill had the potential to reach Merri Creek, which flows into the Yarra River. Testing at the factory’s drainage outlet showed the spill contained many times the level of suspended solids that is permitted in the creek.”
Mr Kerr said EPA officers responding to a report from the public, observed a thick red scum on the water surface and a sweet food smell.
“Investigations showed the spill had occurred after a pump failure in a waste separation pit. The pump was not on any maintenance schedule, there was no barrier around the pit to trap any overflow, and there were no alarms within the pit to alert staff of the overflow,” Mr Kerr said.
“Hume City Council cleaned up the spill offsite, as the factory had no environmental management plan to deal with spills like this.”
EPA has issued a fine of $7773 and a notice which gives it a legally enforceable instruction to modify and install controls to ensure waste from the site is not able to enter the soil or stormwater.
Members of the public can report pollution of the environment to the 24-hour EPA pollution hotline, by calling 1300 372 842 (1300 EPA VIC). There’s more information at www.epa.vic.gov.au/get-involved/report-pollution