River poo raises health alarm

Albert and Logan seafood given go-ahead following GC sewage spill

Local fishers can safely eat seafood caught in the Logan and Albert rivers, authorities have confirmed, following one of the largest sewage spills in “the nation’s history”.

Queensland Health test results from seafood caught at both rivers show “no human health concerns”.

The spill, which occured at a paddock in Yatala, leaked an estimated 350-400 million litres of raw sewage into the Albert River between January and April this year.

That’s roughly four million litres per day.

It took months for Gold Coast council to become aware of the spill, and even longer to report it to the public.

Shortly afterwards, prawn farms along the Logan and Albert rivers were told to stop production and anglers warned against eating any catches over fears of contamination.

“Crab and finfish samples collected from the rivers for analysis were found to be compliant with metal contaminant requirements of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code,” a Gold Coast council statement said.

“Subsequently both the Albert River and Logan Rivers are open for recreational and commercial fishing.”

In early May, the closed prawn farms were given approval to resume operations by the state’s food-regulation agency, Safe Food Production Queensland.

An independent investigation into the spill is ongoing.

Council said it was expecting a draft report from investigators by the end of this month.

“We remain committed to releasing the findings of the review,” the statement said.

“We continue to cooperate with the Department of Environment Science and Innovation investigation into the incident.”

The Department of Environment, Science and Innovation is investigating council for what it has labelled a “catastrophic failure”.

Department regulators are examining the extent of environmental harm “caused by council”, the timeliness of council’s notification of the health risks, and council’s culpability in the management of its sewage collection network.

“The Gold Coast City Council is the polluter in this incident,” a department spokesperson said.

“As such, the council is responsible for ensuring appropriate testing and monitoring of the Albert River and flow-on waterways.

“Council is also responsible for communications to community and industry stakeholders about appropriate recreational and commercial risks in the Abert and Logan Rivers.”

Officers will assess council’s sewage network infrastructure maintenance and management program to determine whether council is adequately managing and maintaining its “ageing assets”.

This could result in enforcement action against the council, including a statutory notice and prosecution.


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