1967 June: Truck Accident Sunday Creek (Vic). Pesticides: DDT, Phosmet

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4th July 1967 From: Deputy Chief Chemist

Pesticide Incident – Hume Highway – Sunday Creek 29th June, 1967

At approximately 2 a.m. 29th June, a semi trailer with a mixed load including pesticides crashed beside the bridge over Sunday Creek on the Hume Highway, a few miles south of Seymour. The driver escaped before a fire developed which destroyed most of the load.

At 10.30am *** Chief Irrigation Officer of the SR&WSC phoned to advise that a load of Imidan had entered Sunday Creek. The initial report was 44 gallon drums which later was corrected to 5 gallon drums and DDT also received mention. I.C.I. disclaimed any responsibility and eventually it was found that the load had been consigned by Monsanto. Monsanto accepted some degree of responsibility of the accident at 1.30pm…

The load had consisted of –

50 drums (5 gallons) 25% D.D.T. Solution
20 drums (5 gallons) 15% Imidan Solution
both in inflammable solvent…

After the accident a fierce fire developed which destroyed most of the pesticide load and other goods.

An insepection at the scene of the accident disclosed that 3 drums of DDT and 1 drum of Imidan were in the water. These drums were damaged but leakage was small and negligible contamination was likely from this source. The drums were removed from the stream and placed beyond the fire which was still burning.

There was evidence that during the fire drums had burst on the seams and the burning contents (up to 300 gallons) had flowed from the seat of the fire to the waters edge. There was no means of telling whether this burning liquid had entered the water but this appeared unlikely…

Water samples were drawn from the site of the accident and from sites 20 yards upstream and downstream in Sunday Creek.

Analyses made the next day disclosed the following –

Upstream sample: DDT (nil), Imidan (nil, less than 0.02 ppm)
Accident site: DDT (1.3ppm) Imidan (nil)
Downstream sample (20 yards): DDT 0.014ppm, Imidan Nil

These results suggest negligible contamination of the Goulburn Water System.

A sample of water from the site of the accident was taken after clean up operations. This sample contained 0.85 ppm. This figure is probably indicative of further contamination from the bank during cleanup operations.

The calculated pesticide residue in the Goulburn River on the basis of stream flow and determined residues in Sunday Creek, would have been no greater than 0.0003ppm and it is considered that this would have been for a relatively short time…