Contaminated firewater from the fire site flowed into nearby Stony Creek. A range of chemicals entered the creek. This included hydrocarbons, solvents such as acetone, herbicides and heavy metals. In the first two weeks after the fire, more than 170 cubic metres of contaminated sediment, and 70 million litres of water was removed from Stony Creek by Melbourne Water.
The contamination from the firewater runoff resulted in the death of plants and animals, including 2,500 dead fish in the creek and estuary.
This incident has been described as the worst pollution event to affect a Melbourne waterway.
Since the fire, we have continued to monitor water quality and sediment at five sites along Stony Creek.
We also monitored the air in nearby residential areas for volatile organic compounds while recovery work took place, between the fire site and Paramount Road, from September 2018 to April 2019.
Stony Creek Recovery and Community Engagement
Maribyrnong City Council became the lead agency for the Stony Creek recovery phase in September 2018. Recovery efforts along Stony Creek are very complex, and have required careful planning, to make sure that they could be done safely.
The Council’s priorities for the Creek are to:
- clean up the most contaminated and frequently accessed sections of Stony Creek
- prevent further contamination moving downstream.
Cleanup works have included:
- scraping creek banks to remove fire-related contamination
- pressure-washing rocks and vegetation to remove sludge
- removing affected trees and shrubs
- installing in-stream barriers to capture contaminants.
To date, recovery efforts have removed approximately 2,500 cubic meters of contaminated sediment from Stony Creek. EPA and Melbourne water are currently assessing downstream sediment deposition areas to conduct further recovery work.
More information on the Stony Creek Recovery phase is available from Maribyrnong City Council.