Harbour pollution swells with high rainfall: Council

Harbour pollution swells with high rainfall: Council

By David Schout

Melbourne’s wettest start to the year in over a century has had an adverse effect on Docklands’ waterways, as debris and other pollutants continues to swell into Victoria Harbour.

After the city experienced more rainfall in the first four months of the year than all of 2019, higher-than-usual levels of debris were spotted in the area’s litter traps.

The issue was highlighted in April by local resident Shane Mason, who posted pictures on the Docklands Community Hub Facebook group, detailing the extent of the pollution in Victoria Harbour.

Reader Paul Vella also sent through evidence of an oil-like pollutant next to Central Pier.

The City of Melbourne said the amount of rainfall seen to date this year - the most since 1911 - was likely to blame for the pollution.

“City of Melbourne engages contractors to regularly remove litter and organic material that is washed into Victoria Harbour following rainfall,” a council spokesperson said.

“With heavy rainfall, more litter is washed along the 240km length of the Yarra River, which significantly increases the amount of litter and organic material that ends up in Docklands. Staff inspected the site (the week of April 20) and will continue to monitor conditions and increase cleaning as needed.”

Both the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) and Melbourne Water said they were unaware of any reports of illegal waste disposal within Victoria Harbour.

This is not the first time rubbish has choked Docklands’ waterways following a period of high rainfall.

In June 2013 - a month where Melbourne received more than three times its usual level of rainfall - the council removed over 40 cubic metres of debris from Marina YE at Yarra’s Edge alone, as reported in Docklands News: docklandsnews.com.au/editions/article/litter-chokes-docklands-waterways_8825/

Earlier this year the council installed five “seabins” in Yarra’s Edge that reportedly collected 200kg of waste each day.

These units catch cigarette butts and plastic packaging as well as oil, detergent and micro plastics that can’t be seen by the human eye.

EPA hunts odour source

Waterway rubbish isn’t causing the only reports of pollution in Docklands, as the hunt continues for the source of a nasty smell that is reportedly hanging around the local area.

In February, Docklands News spoke with NewQuay resident Julian Smith who had described a “urine-like” odour emanating from what appeared to be the Lorimer St industrial precinct beyond the Bolte Bridge.

In early 2019, Mr Smith began reporting the smell to the EPA, which has since confirmed it is investigating the smell and has now put an odour expert on the case.

The Conder Tower resident took it upon himself to letterbox-drop all of the building’s residents who occupy west-facing units to see if they too were experiencing the strange smell, which he claimed was strong enough to wake him during the night when sleeping with the window open.

Within a few days Mr Smith had received four responses from fellow residents who had the same experience.

“It’s good to know I’m not Robinson Crusoe here,” he said.

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