1960 – 2015: Gunnamatta Outfall Melbourne Water

Toxic waves at Gunnamatta

*Melbourne Water dump 1 Billion Litres a day of semi-treated sewage and industrial waste into the ocean and bay.

*Companies pay Melbourne Water to discharge industrial waste into the sewage system.

*In the year 1996/7 Melbourne Water had an operating profit of $173 million for their sewage activities.

*Industrial (trade) waste makes-up 16% of the total sewage load but constitutes 50% of all toxicants and nutrients.

*Dangerous lethal poisons such as heavy metals (Lead, Cadmium, Mercury and Arsenic), Organic toxicants (Dioxin, PCB’s, Chlorinated Hydrocarbons, Petroleum) and nutrients (Phosphates and Nitrogen) are contained in effluent discharged into the sea by Melbourne Water.

*Land-based disposal of sewage would be made more viable if dangerous poisons were extracted.

*Melbourne Water do not envisage the seperation of industrial waste from the domestic sewage stream.

The Victorian EPA

*The EPA are the body given the job of regulating and monitoring the discharge of pollutants into the environment.

*The Victorian EPA had an operation budget in (1996/7) of $27.5 million compared with their NSW counterparts of $74 million.

*In the year 1996/7 the NSW EPA laid 134 charges against polluters with fines totalling over $700,000. In the same year the Victorian EPA laid 21 charges with fines totalling $83,000.

*Since the Kennett Government came to power in 1992, the EPA have been forced into a co-operative relationship with polluters.

*The EPA do not have the resources to even check the data from companies licensed to pollute.

*From 1990/91 to 1996/7 pollution abatement notices to industry fell from 228 to 90. Prosecutions for polluters fell from 42 to 21 and prosecutions for waste fell from 61 to 11.

*In the same period prosecutions to the public for littering rose from 400 to 2683.

Pollution Make Up

What’s in the lethal brew that is dumped into the ocean and bay?

Nutrients: (eg Phosphates and Nitrogen)

These pollutants, emanating from sewage trade waste (food processing), detergents and agriculture (fertilisers, herbicides) can lead to toxic algal blooms, pollution of the reef and sea floor habitat, the degradation of fisheries and degraded water quaility.

Heavy Metals: (eg Mercury, Lead, Cadmium, Arsenic)

These are elementary toxins that emanate predominantly from industrial activity (car manufacturing, electroplating, plant manufacturers etc) and also road run-offs. Heavy metals settle and accumulate in sediment on the sea floor and estuaries and are absorbed in the marine eco-system, marine plants and animals (particularly shellfish). Some heavy metals are lethal if ingested by humans eating contaminated seafood. They bio-accumulate* in the flesh and vital organs of animal species.

Organic Toxicants: (eg Dioxin, Petroleum, PCB’s, Dieldrin)

These contaminants are products of the modern industrial society, many like Dioxins and Dieldrin and DDT are designed specifically to destroy life. They cause genetic damage in plant and animal life forms and remain for long periods in the environment and bio-accumulate* in living beings.

*Bio-accumulate – When toxicants travel up the food chain (ie big fish eat little fish) and their toxicity increases.

Bacterial Contaminants: (eg E.Coli and Streptococci)

These are micro-organisms that emanate from the gut of mammals and can be transferred into our waterways through sewers. Bacteria can cause serious eye, ear, throat and intestinal infections. Certain strains of streptococci and ecoli can cause lethal diseases such as Meningitis.