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Clean-up notice, Molendinar

DES officers responding to the fire at a Gold Coast waste business.

Water samples were taken from a creek near the scene of the fire.

Water samples were taken from a creek near the scene of the fire.

The Department of Environment and Science (DES) has issued a clean-up notice to a Gold Coast-based waste management operator following a significant fire at the industrial site last week.

On 11 July, DES officers attended the fire at a scrap metal business in Molendinar to assist responders.

DES issued an initial direction to the operators to remove fire-contaminated water which was captured in the stormwater drain, to prevent it entering a nearby creek.

The next day, DES officers collected water samples to determine whether contaminants, including oils and heavy metals, had leaked into the creek.

DES officers identified environmental impacts within the immediate 600 metre stretch of the creek, downstream of the site.

Following these initial investigations, DES officers issued the operators with a clean-up notice on 14 July, requiring them to take further actions both on site and in the creek to remove contaminants and prevent further harm under the guidance of an expert.

DES Acting Compliance Delivery Manager Yvette Morgan said officers took water samples as far as 1.6km downstream of the industrial site.

“Oils and heavy metals that are likely to be in the firewater have the potential to impact the waterways over a considerable distance which is why we have looked much further downstream than the immediate obvious area of impact,” Ms Morgan said.

“This is why we take action to prevent contaminants entering sensitive environments as a first priority.

“The results of these additional samples are expected to be finalised in the coming weeks and will show us the level of impact which will refine the scale of required clean-up.”

Failure to comply with a clean-up notice is a serious offence with potential penalties in excess of $4 million for wilful contravention.

If required, DES can also take action to clean-up and issue a cost recovery notice.

DES has published guidelines for waste management operators to reduce fire risks at their sites.

Operators are encouraged to become familiar with these guidelines
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