Darebin Creek Contamination


Ms DUNN (Eastern Metropolitan) — My constituency question is for the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change. It comes as a result of recent communication I have had with some constituents of mine who live near Darebin Creek. They have observed evidence of contamination of the creek, including dead eels, dead carp and water of a grey-brown colour. This is not the first case of contamination of the creek. There have been several cases of pollution of the creek over the years, the worst being in 1991, when a damaged barrel of strychnine found its way into the creek from a local factory. Since then the creek has been turned orange by pollutants and has had foam floating downstream on two occasions; these incidents are suspected to have resulted from the run-off from two local drains. I understand that the Environment Protection Authority Victoria is currently analysing the results of the dead eel, water and sediment samples taken from the creek and will communicate the results to the Darebin Creek Management Committee. I ask: will the minister commit to launching a full investigation into what led to the creek's contamination, what steps are being taken to clean up the creek and what will be done to ensure the creek remains safe into the future, considering the potential risks associated with its proximity to an industrial zone?

EPA undertook an investigation on 12 and 13 May 2016 into reports of fish deaths observed along Darebin Creek between Bell St, Bellfield and Darebin Parklands in Alphington. EPA collected samples of water, creek sediment and a dead eel for analysis. The organs of the eel were analysed and found levels of permethrin that are toxic to fish, and is the likely cause of death.

Permethrin is an insecticide that is widely used in households (fly sprays, dog shampoo, head lice control) and in commercial and agricultural applications (insect control, timber treatment). Although it is generally regarded as safe, it is highly toxic to aquatic life. Permethrin was not detected in the water or sediment samples, and no otherchemicals of concern were detected, indicating that the pollution event was not ongoing. 

Permethrin breaks down rapidly in the environment which means that EPA was unable to identify the source of permethrin pollution. Removal of the dead fish was conducted by Melbourne Water, who also undertakes regular monitoring of the creek. 

Hon Lily D'Ambrosio MP
Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change