River poo raises health alarm

Fishers navigate iffy waters

Prawn farms near the Albert and Logan rivers, halted due to a massive sewage spill, are now approved to restart.

However, authorities’ warnings to local fishers continue.

The state’s food-regulation agency, Safe Food Production Queensland, told local aquaculture businesses to cease operations on 12 April – the same day the agency learned of the 350-400 million-litre spill and three days after Gold Coast council became aware of it.

Since then, Food Safe led investigations at the prawn farms “assessing risk management systems” and reviewing “a range of sampling events”.

“Based on the results of the investigation, SFQ is satisfied that product meets the requirements of the Australia and New Zealand Food Standards Code and can therefore be supplied through the usual supply chains,” Safe Food CEO Jim Dodds said.

Mr Dodds said Safe Food had not undertaken “any direct sampling of water or seafood” of the rivers, so commercial fishers should not supply wild caught seafood until further testing.

“As the Gold Coast City Council has recommended that recreational fishers do not consume seafood sourced from these river systems until public health agencies have completed an assessment,” he said.

“Last week SFQ recommended to accredited producers that commercially harvested wild caught seafood from these rivers continue to not be supplied until further test results are received and assessed.”

On 3 May a Gold Coast council spokesperson said testing continued to indicate the rivers were safe for recreational use.

“Queensland Health advice that any fish caught in the river should not be consumed, remains in place at this time,” the spokesperson said.

A local environmental group, the Eagleby Community and Wetlands Group, said potential hazardous effects for humans was “only the beginning”.

“Let’s just hope the spill hasn’t killed off the food source for the water birds that rely on the Albert River,” group member Robert Livingstone said.

“It could be catastrophic.”

Mr Livingstone said the communication to Logan residents about the spill was non-existent.

“It hasn’t been released to anyone on this side of the river by Logan City Council,” he said.

“There’s a load of people who go fishing here, and considering we are just around the bend from where this leak had been happening since January, there are people catching fish and going home and eating them.

“There are signs on the Gold Coast side of the river, and they’ve put flyers in peoples’ letterboxes, but we’ve had no notification of the leak on this side whatsoever.”

Eagleby fishermen recently told MyCity Logan they were completely unaware of any spill.

As of 3 May there was zero signage at the Eagleby entrance to the Logan River advising of the spill or warning against eating seafood.

Logan City council has been aware of the spill since 11 April, according to a Gold Coast council spokesperson.

Mayor Jon Raven told MyCity Logan last week the Gold Coast council was responsible for the “response and recovery” of the spill, because that’s where the spill occurred.

It is believed a sewer main in Yatala had broken and spilled around four million litres of sewage into the Albert River per day since mid-January.

Authorities have estimated a total of 350-400 million litres spilled into the river until 12 April.






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