The 4350water Blog highlights some of the issues relating to proposals for potable reuse in Toowoomba and South East Qld. 4350water blog looks at related political issues as well.

Friday, January 16, 2009

SEQ recycled water - Spill at waste water site covered up ...

Excerpt from the Australian:

Spill at waste water site covered up

Greg Roberts | January 16, 2009

State government authorities covered up an accident last year at a water recycling plant near Brisbane in which more than 500,000 litres of industrial and hospital waste water were spilled.

The spill at the Bundamba Advanced Water Treatment Plant near Ipswich last July resulted in a report to the state Environmental Protection Agency. In November, the Bligh Government was forced to suspend plans to pump recycled water to Brisbane's Wivenhoe Dam from early this year following a series of reports in The Australian that raised concerns about water safety.

However, recycled effluent will be added to drinking water supplies if dam levels fall below 40per cent; they are now at 46per cent.

Critics of drinking recycled water argue that accidents arising from human error are the main reason for concern about its safety. The Bundamba plant is treating effluent that will be pumped to Wivenhoe Dam if dam levels fall.

Government sources told The Australian that a large spill of effluent occurred at Bundamba and compliance officers at the plant told managers it was sufficiently serious for a report to be prepared for the EPA.

However, the authorities decided not to publicly reveal the spill because of the sensitivity surrounding the recycled water debate. When first asked by The Australian to confirm the information, the government-owned Western Corridor Recycled Water Project company said: "We are not aware of any recent spill at the Bundamba plant."

When pressed, the company admitted that a spill had occurred, comprising 540 kilolitres of effluent as well as 120kl of water used to clean the plant membranes.

The water had been treated to a level that made it "suitable for irrigating golf courses".

The company said in a statement that the water had soaked into the ground; there was no runoff into the Bremer River; and there had been no risk to public health or safety.

The spill occurred because valves on the industrial waste pipeline were not properly closed after rectification works.

"The valves were closed immediately the spill was identified and the Environmental Protection Agency was notified of the incident," the company said. "Safety is the No1 priority for the Western Corridor Recycled Water Project. We operate according to strict standards and we take our environmental responsibilities very seriously."

Confirmation of the spill emerged as Premier Anna Bligh was forced to defend the $2.5 billion recycled water scheme following revelations by The Australian that no companies had signed up to use treated effluent.

Ms Bligh said 40 megalitres of water a day from Wivenhoe Dam was being saved because the government-owned Swanbank and Tarong power stations were using recycled water.

"This pipeline is not only about today's water needs," she said. "It's about planning for the future needs of one of Australia's fastest-growing regions."

Ms Bligh said that with a potential lifespan exceeding 50years for the western corridor pipeline, it was probable that industries using water would in future be attracted to land in its proximity.

See - The Australian - Spill cover up.

Also see  - Brisbane Times - Industrial waste spill near Ipswich: report.

Trust us ...

7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is this the first accident? and will it be the last?

7:37 AM, January 16, 2009

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a surprise that they would try to cover this up and then it leaks out. It is the culture of this government to cover up its scandals. What makes anyone think a major spill or major fault with this system will be disclosed? Don't forget that the legislation for recycled water does not require the government to notify the public if things go wrong.

9:12 AM, January 16, 2009

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This spill doesn't worry me so much as the fact they did everything they could to cover it up. This has been known for a while and Bligh and her team have been trying to keep a lid on it.

9:23 AM, January 16, 2009

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder if he knows about the leaking pipes out Bundamba?
They are replacing the pipes and dumping them is various locations all around Brisbane.

12:03 PM, January 16, 2009

 
Anonymous Watchful said...

Let us see them argue their way out of this one! What would have been wrong for them to alert the public there had been a mistake and to advise us to use bottled water for a while. We would have more respect for them. Also, how long has the Coalition known about this and why did they not make a big issue out of the fact that a) it happened and b) the public were lied to again. Will they make it an election issue?

2:58 PM, January 16, 2009

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well,well,well

5:49 PM, January 16, 2009

 
Anonymous newswatch said...

The Australian:

Denial on recycled water spill challenged

January 21, 2009

A CLAIM by the Queensland government body responsible for the state's troubled $2.5 billion recycled water scheme that a massive industrial effluent spill did not affect a nearby river has been challenged.

It is the second time in a week that statements from the Western Corridor Recycled Water Project have been disputed. The latest claims about the project emerged as the chemical manufacturing giant Incitev Pivot signalled it would be the first private company to use recycled water from the project.

The Australian reported last week that 540 kilolitres of effluent and 120KL of cleaning water -- of a standard that made it "suitable for irrigating golf courses" -- were spilled last July when the valves on an industrial waste pipeline were not closed properly at the Bundamba Advanced Water Treatment Plant near Ipswich.

Critics of the western corridor scheme have pointed to human error as the main reason for concern about the safety of recycled water.

The western corridor company initially denied there had been a "recent" spill at Bundamba, admitting to the event only when pressed by The Australian.

Industry sources said opinion was divided among company personnel about whether the spill should have been referred at the time to the state Environmental Protection Agency.

The company said the spilled water had "soaked into the ground" and "there was no runoff into the Bremer River and no risk to public health or safety".

However, the EPA said much of the spilled water had flowed into a dam on an adjoining property.

EPA staff who inspected the site observed water from the dam overflowing through a natural gully into the Bremer River.

The EPA said it was unclear how much water made its way into the river, but testing had indicated it was of a quality that would not cause environmental impacts.

Asked to explain its initial statement, the western corridor company said a report to the EPA had stated there was "no visible sign of the waste water flowing into the Bremer River". On this basis, the company believed that none of the spilled water reached the river.

The company said the water was of a higher quality than if it had been released untreated into the Brisbane River, as would have happened before the Bundamba plant came into operation.

The Bligh Government was forced to suspend plans to add recycled water to southeast Queensland's drinking water supply from next month in response to concerns about its safety. By that time, industry was to have accounted for 30 per cent of water produced at Bundamba and two other treatment plants, but no companies have signed up to use it.

9:31 AM, January 21, 2009

 

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