Black oil spill in Melbourne’s west seeps into marine sanctuary

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“Parks Victoria staff are monitoring for any impacts to wildlife and working closely with Melbourne Water and the EPA to address this urgently.”So far authorities say it appears that no wildlife in the sanctuary has been harmed, but they are monitoring the situation.Melbourne Water crews remained at the creek on Friday, after earlier confirming clean-up efforts could last “several weeks”.”Crews are on site and continuing containment and clean-up efforts,” a spokeswoman said on Friday.The pristine Jawbone Marine Sanctuary is home to sharks, rays, coral, octopus and star fish.Credit:Parks Victoria”Melbourne Water continues to work as part of a multi-agency clean-up and recovery operation.”An excavator, booms and vacuum trucks were earlier used to stop the pollution spreading, but the cause of the contamination is still unknown.The creek runs through the Paisley Challis Wetlands, a popular spot for bird watchers and walkers, and runs straight into Port Phillip Bay.The Jawbone Marine Sanctuary is home to rays, sharks, corals, anemones, squid, octopus, jellyfish, star fish and barnacles, a volunteer care group says.The Victorian National Parks Association says it contains rocky basalt reef, seagrass beds, saltmarsh, mangroves, and is a roosting site for migratory wading birds.The sanctuary is also popular with snorkellers.Local resident Matthew Miller, whose house backs onto the creek and who first raised the alarm with the EPA, said he noticed a pungent, diesel-like smell on Monday, and awoke the next day to find that the creek had turned black.An oil slick on the surface of the creek. Credit:Matthew Miller “It was caked in oil all the way and running through the entire creek,” Mr Miller said.“The water was black, and the oil stains were running up both sides of the embankment – it looked like very dark oil stains. The smell was really pungent, it was quite overwhelming.”LoadingPhotos of the contamination, taken by Mr Miller, show plants near the creek covered in black tar and an oily slick on the surface of the water.“When we’ve had big floods, sometimes there can be a bit of contamination in the creek,” Mr Miller said.“Whilst it was ugly, it was nowhere near the contamination we’re seeing. I’ve been here for four years and this is the worst.”On Friday, he said crews were working around the clock until the early hours of the morning with lights set up.Clean up efforts will take several weeks, Melbourne Water says. Credit:Matthew Miller The Department of Transport’s Marine Pollution Team and Parks Victoria are working with Melbourne Water to clean up the site.EPA is working to track the source of the pollution, and has advised people to avoid contact with the water.Rachel is a breaking news reporter for The Age.Sumeyya is a reporter for The Age.Most Viewed in NationalLoading

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