How the Tottenham industrial fire impacted Stony Creek

Contaminated firewater from the fire site flowed into nearby Stony Creek. A range of chemicals entered the creek. These included:

  • hydrocarbons
  • acetone
  • herbicides
  • heavy metals.

Plants and animals died as result of contaminated firewater runoff. This included about 2,5000 fish deaths in the creek and estuary.

In the two weeks after the fire, Melbourne Water removed from the creek more than:

  • 170 m3 of contaminated sediment
  • 70 million litres of water.

Our environmental monitoring

We have found more than 100 hazardous and industrial chemicals in drums at the Tottenham fire site.

Chemicals and industrial waste remaining secured onsite are low risk to human health and the environment if managed in the right way.

We are working with WorkSafe on the site cleanup to ensure community safety. WorkSafe and EPA are managing the onsite drums as part of the site cleanup.

Our test results show waste chemicals onsite contain:

  • large amounts of solvents (for example acetone and cyclohexane)
  • hydrocarbons
  • pesticides (terbutryn)
  • PFAS
  • metals
  • plasticisers (phthalates, monophenyl ditolyl phosphate II). A plasticiser is a substance that makes materials flexible and easier to handle.

We've monitored water and sediment quality in Stony Creek since August 2018. Latest results include test results from samples taken on 14 February  2020, which show impacts were limited to soon after the event and the area is again safe for our community to enjoy as before.

We'll use the information about the chemicals still at the Tottenham site to develop a cleanup plan. The information will also help us make sure any onsite work doesn't release harmful chemicals. Site staff will use the information to make sure they work safely and dispose of waste in the right way.

Read next

Tottenham industrial fire

Tottenham industrial fire: EPA's role and enforcement action.

Reviewed 3 August 2020