2017 June: Fish and Eel Kill. Ipswich Qld. Pesticide: Bifenthrin

Mass pesticide dose killed fish, eels tests confirm

Queensland Times June 29 2017


FISH and eels found dead in an Ipswich waterway were killed by exposure to pesticides, lab tests have confirmed.

The discovery was made after residents sent samples of the dead animals found at Walloon near the Waterlea development to a government lab for testing.

Those tests showed high levels of the chemical Bifenthrin, commonly used in Queensland to treat timber for termites.

While the mystery of the animals’ cause of death last month has now been solved, the source of the chemical remains unknown.

Waterlea developer said its own investigation pointed to a “localised source”, meaning the chemical was likely dumped directly into the waterway, as opposed to run-off from the nearby development site.

Owen Wesner, who discovered the dead fish and eels, wants answers and assurances the surrounding ground and waterways are not contaminated. He also wants to know there will be no long-term environmental consequences.

“It’s an environmental disaster as far as I am concerned,” Mr Wesner said.

“If pesticides have been dumped there, then it’s an environmental issue that needs to be addressed.

“Who’s to say children don’t swim in that water hole? What if the cattle downstream drink the water? Are the local kangaroos drinking from the water hole? Has the local koala population been affected? People need to understand they can’t dump these chemicals down the drain, if that’s what has happened here. Chemicals like pesticides must be disposed of properly at a council facility.”

The State Government’s Biosecurity Department confirmed the chemical detected Bifenthrin, is an agricultural insecticide used for the control of borers and termites in timber, insect pests in agricultural crops and turf, as well as general pest control.

The State Environment Department was aware of the waterway contamination and said Ipswich City Council had investigated.

Ipswich City Council said its officers attended the area following the fish kill report from residents, but is still awaiting the results of a preliminary investigation.

A spokesperson for Waterlea at Walloon said it worked closely with authorities to determine the origin of the chemicals.

“By examining rain fall logs and other data we determined no water had left our site in the days leading up to the event,” the spokesperson said.