CitiPower has been fined by the Victorian Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) after oil from one of its power substations contaminated a Brunswick East creek.

EPA Acting Metropolitan Manager Danny Childs said oil entered Merri Creek after it flowed into a stormwater drainage channel near CitiPower’s Nicholson Street power substation.  

“EPA became aware of the situation after receiving a number of community reports of an oily sheen in the Fitzroy North part of Merri Creek,” Mr Childs said.  

“Our investigation determined oil had entered Merri Creek from vandalised transformers at the power substation and travelled along a drainage channel that runs into the creek.”

Mr Childs said it was unknown how much oil entered the creek as it had been heavily diluted and the incident was believed to have occurred on the evening prior to EPA’s inspection, but some oil was observed pooled in the stormwater channel.    

“EPA immediately issued directions requiring CitiPower to remove contaminated water in the stormwater system and prevent any further leaks from the transformers,” Mr Childs said.  

Mr Childs said EPA was satisfied with the clean-up effort; however, in line with EPA’s Compliance and Enforcement Policy, it decided to issue a fine of $7500 because CitiPower had failed to take reasonable steps to prevent the oil leak from occuring.   

“Businesses have a responsibility to prevent spills from entering the environment, especially where they store large volumes of hazardous substances, but CitiPower took no preventative action,” Mr Childs said.   

“Oil in particular can have many adverse environmental impacts, including smothering surfaces and coating fish gills if it enters the water, so we take these matters extremely seriously.”

Following the incident, EPA served a Pollution Abatement Notice requiring CitiPower to install controls to prevent future spills from occurring at the premises.

CitiPower has committed to improving security at the Brunswick East substation to prevent vandals from entering the site.  

Jessica Dickers is an experienced journalist, editor and content creator who is currently the Editor of Utility’s sister publication, Infrastructure. With a strong writing background, Jessica has experience in journalism, editing, print production, content marketing, event program creation, PR and editorial management. Her favourite part of her role as editor is collaborating with the sector to put together the best industry-leading content for the audience.

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