Recreational fisherman Trevor Buck says the claims that all is well in the bay are rubbish.

“With the dredge in the South, the water is getting more murky and cloudy, and there aren’t many fish either”. Mr. Buck has received reports from fellow anglers from as far north as Parkdale that water quality has dropped dramatically since dredging began. “I have also been told about sick and dead penguins and scallops showing signs of obvious distress in the south of the bay. The murky plume is easily seen even from the MODIS website satellite photos, stretching towards the north of the Bay. There’s no doubt it is affecting water quality, but at least it’s not toxic as well as murky - yet. It will be a different story if the dredge starts work on the underwater hazardous waste facility for storing the toxic Yarra sludge” he says.

Mr. Buck says rather than trust the PoMC data he would prefer to listen to the advice of independent scientists such as Mr. Chris Mardon[ who says: 1]

“Ideally the sediment should not be disturbed at all. Toxins attach to fine clay particles and will be partially released into the water if the Yarra bed is dug up. Many of these particles will be carried down the bay towards Ricketts Point by natural currents. PoMC data indicates beaches from Port Melbourne to Brighton will be affected by the dredging plume”.

“Dredged Yarra sediments will be carried by barge to the proposed dumping ground in the middle of the Bay west of Ricketts Point. Recent experiments where clean mussels were brought from the south of the Bay and suspended over the existing spoil ground showed that the mussels became contaminated in a matter of a few weeks[. 2]

PoMC’s consultant (Golder) undertook a fish contamination model to estimate likely contamination in a limited number of fish species. Technically, their data met an Australian standard (ANZFA MRL), but that is because that list is limited in its scope. They totally ignored some toxins and one toxin they chose to evaluate is not listed (PAH, or Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons). PAH is both toxic and known to cause cancer.

The Victorian EPA used the US EPA screening values in its recent study [3] into the suitability of fish for human consumption from the Lower Yarra and Maribyrnong Rivers. That study resulted in the Victorian Department of Human Services warning to keep consumption of fish taken from this area to very small amounts, especially for pregnant women and children. If the EPA values are applied to the PoMC’s fish data, (and why weren’t they?) the results ring alarm bells, especially PAH in mussels from the Yarra, Hobson’s Bay and St. Kilda areas. PoMC’s own data indicates the concentration of PAH in fish tissues could be hundreds of times the safe levels recommended by the Victorian EPA and the Victorian DHS (see summary spreadsheet compiled from PoMC data).  

The Victorian EPA study found mercury and dioxins in fish from the Yarra, so the absence of mercury and dioxins information in the PoMC data is curious to say the very least. Dioxins are extremely hazardous environmental pollutants which bioaccumulate, attaching to fat cells in the body, and are known to cause birth defects, cell mutations and cancer.

“Why would you want to fish in the Bay if the PoMC ever start the toxic waste facility?” asks Mr. Buck

Blue Wedges spokespersons: Trevor BuckJohn Willis:    0407 053 484:  0427 777 747,


[1] Mr. Mardon is a chemical engineer, who worked in the chemical industry for 5 years then as a research scientist with CSIRO until his retirement.

[2] Bioaccumulation Study SKM April 2006

[3] EPA publication: Maribyrnong and Yarra estuaries: investigation of contamination in fish January 2007

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