Melbourne Water and Hobsons Bay City Council, supported by Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPAV) officers, have been working to remove dead fish from Cherry Lake, as the clean-up continues following a chemical spill.
The spill has left hundreds of fish dead, spurring the Council to call for tougher penalties for the business responsible.
On 6 March 2022, a small fire at a nearby business resulted in a large quantity of detergent being released into Cherry Creek and Lake.
The EPAV is investigating the exact circumstances and any breaches of the law but is confident the source has been identified and contained.
However, authorities continue to warn people to avoid contact with the water and any fish or eels caught in the region.
Mayor of Hobsons Bay, Councillor Peter Hemphill, said the severity of the spill was unlike anything Hobsons Bay had experienced in recent times; with hundreds, if not thousands, of fish killed and future effects on local biodiversity still to be determined.
“When all of the details of this incident are known, and if laws have been breached, we hope that any conviction or punishment matches the severity of what has occurred within our environment,” Mayor Hemphill said.
“The message needs to be very loud and very clear.”
The incident is severe and significant, with EPAV indicating it could take several weeks to remediate waterways affected by a spill of about 12,000 to 13,000L of surfactant – a chemical found in detergent.
Melbourne Water and Hobsons Bay City Council, supported by EPAV officers, have been working to remove dead fish.
EPAV is monitoring the contamination as Melbourne Water continues to clean up Cherry Creek and Cherry Lake, with Council support.
Signage is in place around the popular recreation space of Cherry Lake as crews work continuously to remove dead fish from the water and remediate the waterway.
Mayor Hemphill warned people to avoid the water and ensure pets do not eat dead fish or eels.
“Since learning of this awful event, we have been out warning people to avoid the water entirely and to not eat any fish or eels caught in the Cherry Lake area,” Mayor Hemphill said.
“Cherry Lake is a popular destination for families to play, people to exercise and for anyone to fish and picnic. Over the long weekend, the warm weather drew many people to the reserve and the environmental disaster was obvious to everyone.
“We share the community’s concern. We know there is an enormous impact to the fish stock within the lake but the area is also popular for birdlife and the effects on the wider biodiversity is still unknown but obviously something we are deeply worried about.”
Warning signs have been put in place around the creek and lake, while updates are posted on the EPAV website and through the Council’s social media channels.
For more information, visit the EPAV website here.
If the community sees dead fish or other signs of the effects of pollution in the area, call 1300 EPA VIC (1300 372 842) or [email protected]