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Steele Creek recovery

On the morning of Tuesday, 24 May 2016 a major road traffic accident occurred on the Calder Freeway near Keilor Park Drive which involved several cars and a fuel tanker. Sadly, a man was killed and several others injured in the incident. 

The fuel tanker, which was carrying 60,000 litres of unleaded fuel overturned and approximately 15,000 litres of fuel, along with firefighting foam used during emergency management of the incident, entered Steele Creek.

This page will keep you updated on the recovery project.

20 June 2016 update

Melbourne Water has continued to monitor the two remaining absorbent booms in Steele Creek. There are no longer traces of fuel and foam in the creek and Melbourne Water has advised that the booms will now be removed on Thursday 23 June.

Follow up water sampling conducted by Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has returned normal readings. EPA has advised that safety signage placed along the creek can now be removed.

8 June 2016 update

Due to the effectiveness of the absorbent booms in removing the contaminants from the water, Melbourne Water has now removed several booms from the creek with two remaining in place. The first south of Keilor Road and the second under the Avenue Bridge, Valley Lake. These booms will continue to be monitored daily.

EPA’s current update on Steele Creek has advised the latest on-site water tests have again returned normal readings, but a small amount of slick build up is still present in some parts of the creek. The signs advising people to avoid contact with the creek will remain in place until final test results confirm the water has returned to its normal state.

Calder Freeway Incident Environment Recovery

We (Moonee Valley City Council) are responsible for coordinating the environmental recovery of Steele Creek following a road traffic accident in May 2016 on the Calder Freeway near Keilor Park that resulted in approximately 15,000 litres of fuel, along with firefighting foam used during the incident, entering a section of the creek.

We have formed the ‘Calder Freeway Incident Environment Recovery Group’ to coordinate the recovery efforts with the following agencies and stakeholders:

  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning
  • Environment Protection Authority Victoria
  • Melbourne Water
  • Moonee Valley City Council
  • Friends of Steele Creek
  • Vic Roads
  • Parks Victoria

Background

On the morning of Tuesday 24 May 2016 a road traffic accident occurred on the Calder Freeway near Keilor Park Drive which involved several cars and a fuel tanker. Sadly, a man was killed and several others injured in the incident.  The fuel tanker, which was carrying 60,000 litres of unleaded fuel overturned and approximately 15,000 litres of fuel, along with firefighting foam used during emergency management of the incident, entered Steele Creek. No diesel fuel was part of the contamination.

The Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) engaged several specialist recovery companies to assist with fuel recovery within the first hour of the incident. An eductor truck was used to vacuum contaminants and absorbent booms were deployed in the creek to contain and remove pollutants during the immediate clean-up effort. Thanks to these timely interventions, the spill into the creek was contained to within 1km of the incident site.

MFB media release - Road traffic and hazmat incident on Calder Freeway, Keilor Park

Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) were involved throughout the initial incident management phase to assess and advise on environmental concerns.

Frequently asked questions

What steps were taken initially to contain the spill and protect the creek, vegetation and wildlife?

  • Absorbent booms deployed
    Metropolitan Fire Brigade contractors and Melbourne Water deployed a number of absorbent booms at the entry site and at various points along the creek within an hour of the initial incident.
    Absorbent booms are hydrophobic and therefore do not like water. This enables them to soak the fuel up, leaving the water behind. As the foam acts like a detergent in water, the booms are unable to absorb the foam, so the booms act as a barrier, trapping the foam instead. When the booms are full they are removed and replaced. The booms are being monitored by Melbourne Water daily until traces of fuel and foam are no longer present. Map of boom locations (pdf,2MB)

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  • Eductor trucks
    An eductor truck was used to vacuum contaminants at the site to remove pollutants during the immediate clean-up effort on the day of the incident and in the following weeks to remove water behind the booms containing any foam, scum or fuel build up.
  • Wildlife walks
    Melbourne Water conducted wildlife walks during the week following the incident to check for sick or injured wildlife in or near the contaminated section of the creek.
  • Water sampling
    EPA is monitoring water quality in Steele Creek with regular on-site water tests. So far these have returned normal readings.

What steps were initially undertaken to inform the local community of the spill?

  • Safety signage
    We placed signage along the creek between Keilor Road and Rosehill Road, warning the public to avoid contact with the waterway on the day of the incident. These signs will remain in place until EPA advises the water has returned to its normal state.
  • Community meeting
    On 26 May at 7pm a community meeting was held at Niddrie Hub to inform interested community about the clean-up. The meeting was attended by 47 local residents, Victoria Police, Metropolitan Fire Brigade, Environment Protection Authority Victoria, Department of Health and Human Services, Melbourne Water and Council officers. 

What is the potential impact of the unleaded fuel and foam on the water in the creek?

The main concerns are hydrocarbons and surfactants which impact the dissolved oxygen in the waterway. Early indicators following the initial spill show a drop in dissolved oxygen by 30 per cent, however it is not unusual to see a drop in certain areas.

Will there be any impact on Valley Lake?

No. Valley Lake overflows into Steele Creek and therefore no pollutants will enter the lake.

What is the likely effect of fuel and foam on reeds and vegetation?

Pollutants will not affect the creek’s bed as they float at the top of the surface. It is too early to say what affects there may be on the creek banks and vegetation. Melbourne Water is currently investigating what the potential impact of the materials might be and what steps should be undertaken to assist the environmental recovery.

On 25 May there was still evidence of foam and fuel vapours, how long will this last?

Vapours may remain for a few weeks. The EPA will monitor and advise if public health warnings are needed.

When will the creek be safe to return to with children and dogs?

Too early to say at this stage. The EPA will continue to monitor water quality to determine this. Regular updates will be posted on this page.

What can the community do to help?

If you see something please report it to the appropriate agencies.

Injured Wildlife - Wildlife Victoria on 1300 094 535

Pollution - Environmental Protection Authority Victoria on 1300 094 535

For further information on the recovery of Steele Creek please contact our Conservation Officers on 9243 888 or environment@mvcc.vic.gov.au

How did the petrol tanker leak occur and how many compartments were punctured?

The Victoria Police major collision unit will undertake a full investigation of the incident.

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Further Information
Last updated: Wednesday, 22 June 2016, 3:46 AM

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