Jamison Creek had “not completely recovered” from a pest company’s chemical spill last year which killed 1000 crayfish — and it could take “many years” to do so, according to an environmental activist group and local council experts.
Blue Mountains Conservation Society president, Pete Ridgeway said “stream health and wildlife [was] likely to take many years to recover” because of the accident.
And Blue Mountains City Council aquatic systems officer Amy St Lawrence, who has been closely monitoring the Wentworth Falls waterway since the incident, said she also had concerns.
“I wouldn’t say it’s 100 per-cent recovered. I would say the recovery is encouraging and we are fortunate we have those relatively undeveloped tributaries that have allowed for the resilience ... and a steady base flow of groundwater from Blue Mountains swamps”. A survey by a crayfish expert in April found “quite a healthy population” of crayfish, she said.
Last month two brothers pleaded guilty — David Douglas Kennedy and Peter Kennedy — to charges of polluting waters under section 120 of the Environment Operation Act. Peter Kennedy is the director of F.T.G.O.G Pty Ltd which operates as Barrier Pest Control in Blaxland. His brother, David administered the pesticide at the Cale Lane villas in Wentworth Falls in July last year which caused the damage to the creek 700 metres away. They were fined a total of $30,000 in Katoomba Local Court.
Ms St Lawrence said they “would continue to monitor [the creek] and it would give us the answers in time”.
Mr Ridgeway said the incident highlighted the need for better education of pest control operators in appropriate chemical use and he hoped the EPA [Environment Protection Agency] considered this option.
He added the Society was “very concerned that the stormwater protections we presently enjoy are proposed to be scrapped under the new Standard Instrument Local Environment Plan for the Blue Mountains”.
Ms St Lawrence said a better buffer zone between the urban area and the creek would have limited the damage. Council is currently working on building stormwater management systems in-house which would be more cost effective than many on the market.
*As part of the Blue Mountains Festival of Walking, Amy St Lawrence, will guide a walk along Jamison Creek on Thursday, October 10, to talk about the impact of last year’s pesticide leak and how the iconic waterway is recovering. Book at www.festivalofwalking.com.au.
One witness to give evidence in the lead-up to the council prosecution was trainee pest controller Robert Fuge.
Mr Fuge, of Blackheath, who was working at the scene of the accident but was “in no way involved” said he expressed concerns about David Kennedy’s pest control tank “overflowing”. When the July accident occurred he reported the matter to his boss Peter Kennedy and was later interviewed by council’s health and compliance team.
Mr Fuge said he did not witness any spill kit being used after the incident and believed it was “hosed into a drain”.
“We’re supposed to use a clean-up kit ... I was told later [during the investigation] that there was a fire station down the road and they would have had a haz mat kit”. He now has a range of health problems and said at the time he felt he and David Kennedy were “overworked” by the company.
“I had nothing to do with the pollution but I witnessed it. Once council approached me I told the truth. I had an obligation to see it through.”