River poo raises health alarm

River poo raises health alarm

Possibly the worst sewage spill in “the nation’s history” is at Logan’s doorstep.

Logan City council said it has communicated the spill with residents “where required”, but local fishermen argue they had no idea it even happened.

It is believed several hundred-million litres of sewage flowed into the Albert River between January and April this year.

Over the past two weeks, prawn farms along the Logan and Albert rivers have been forced to stop production and anglers warned against eating any catches over fears of contamination.

But a number of local fishermen at Eagleby told MyCity Logan they were unaware of the spill, and had seen no signage or messaging informing them of the potential risks.

Logan’s mayor Jon Raven said Gold Coast council was responsible for the clean-up, but Logan had “offered to lend a hand if needed”.

“Because Gold Coast infrastructure is the source of the spill, it is their responsibility to manage the response and recovery,” Cr Raven said.

The spill was first detected at a Yatala paddock on Monday 8 April, according to Gold Coast council.

It is estimated that four million litres spilled from a busted sewer main every day since mid-January.

A Gold Coast council spokesperson said council was first alerted to the issue by a member of the public.

The sewer main was then repaired four days later on Friday 12 April.

The spokesperson said Logan City council was made aware of the incident three days after it was detected.

“The (Gold Coast) City made initial contact with Logan City council on Thursday, 11 April about the spill and to validate Beenleigh treatment plant inflow data from our rising main which discharges directly to the plant,” she said.

A Logan council spokesperson said Logan Water “offered to assist” Gold Coast council to “fully understand the impacts of the spill and to assist in coordinating information and assistance to Logan City residents where required”.

Gold Coast council didn’t reveal the spill to the public until Monday 15 April.

Later that week (Friday 19 April) Gold Coast council released a statement warning people not to eat any seafood caught in either the Albert or Logan rivers.

“Results of microbial testing has confirmed that the river is safe for recreational use, but in an abundance of caution Queensland Health recommends seafood caught in the tidal reaches of Albert or Logan River is not consumed until further notice,” the statement said.

“Queensland Health recommends any person who believes that they have become unwell from consuming fish they have caught to contact the GP for further advice.”

Northern Gold Coast councillor Mark Hammel said it was estimated between 350-400 million litres of sewage – around 150 Olympic swimming pools – spilled into the river over a four month period.

“[This] is the biggest environmental incident to occur in the Gold Coast’s history,” Cr Hammel said at an event last week.

“This is a sewage spill – possibly the biggest that’s ever happened in the nation’s history.

“This is a critical piece of infrastructure that has failed and failed for months before it was identified… it is a massive issue.”

An independent inquiry has been launched into the spill, a Gold Coast council spokesperson confirmed.

“That independent inquiry needs to look at why the pipe failed… [and] also the response from council,” Cr Hammel said.

The Logan council spokesperson told MyCity Logan last week “no seafood taken from the river should be eaten at this time”.

“The spill has impacted recreational fishers and aquaculture businesses in the City of Logan, who have had to cease their activities while water quality tests are conducted,” the spokesperson said.

According to the Gold Coast council spokesperson:

  • The Department of Environment Science & Innovation (DESI) was advised of the spill on 9 April.
  • Safe Food Queensland officers met with council officers on 12 April.
  • The City advised Queensland Heath on 12 April.
  • Council reveived advice from Queensland Health on 19 April to erect “warning signs”
  • Council erected the signs on 20 April.

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