1998 May: Herbicide Spill Traralgon South (Vic). Pesticide: Simazine.


A spill of Simazine herbicide occurred for about a kilometre along Red Hill Road, finishing near Middle Road. A company crew had been using the material the previous day and had mixed more than they were able to use. When they went to use it they found that the clay particles has settled and had set solidly. They could not clear it so they took the tank back to their workshops to get cleared. It appears that a valve had been left open which had become unblocked on the way down from Balook Road and had leaked.

The leak which was estimated to be about 100 litres and left a white line on the bitumen road surface.

The leak was not reported either to Australian Paper Plantations Pty Ltd or the EPA until several days after the event.

From the EPA Complaint Report:

“Investigated and found bright pink dye on the edge of the road, the slope leading to a waterhole and a pink tinge in the water. Obtained a sample of the waterhole and at the outlet from it.”

On 27/5/98 APP was notified and were advised to pump the water out (to be used as make-up water) and to remove the contaminated soil.

Explanation from spray contractors ” *** explained that his son *** had used the suction hose on the new spray unit to pump water into the spray tank after having put the chemicals and dye into the tank (21 litres simazine, 6 litres roundup, 200 ml pulse and 230 ml dye). When he had filled the 600 litre tank he stopped the pump and as he took the hose out of the water he saw the pink liquid running out of the end of the hose into the water. He quickly threw the hose onto the roadway and then onto the vehicle. He saw that the water had been coloured with the dye/chemical mix and that there were stains on the bank and the road edge. He did not notify anyone because he thought the spill was too insignificant but he did spread some sawdust on the spill on the road. It appears that the non-return valve in the hose inlet did not work when the pump was turned off. They have now installed another non-return valve in the inlet hose. “