Yeppoon barrel investigation update

Issued: 9 December 2019

Test results have shown the levels of hydrocarbon contaminants in a wetland at Sandy Point Road at Yeppoon have decreased.

The tests, conducted on 19 November at three sampling areas by the Department of Environment and Science (DES), revealed no hydrocarbon contamination to water, but elevated levels of hydrocarbon contaminants, including xylene, remain in soils and sludge near the dumping site.

DES is continuing to monitor the site.

Queensland Health have reviewed the test results from water and soil samples and provided precautionary advice that people should not swim in the lagoon or consume seafood caught in the waterway.

Based on the advice from Queensland Health, DES has installed temporary warning signs adjacent to the impact area.

The contamination event had a lethal impact on a number of aquatic species, with DES officers observing deceased mangrove bloodworms, 10 dead crabs and 50 deceased glassfish in the days after the drums were discovered.

DES will continue to take samples from the lagoon to determine contaminant levels.

As the environmental regulator, DES takes compliance issues seriously. The department has set clear expectations about acceptable standards of environmental performance, particularly when public safety and environmental protection is concerned.

Where compliance issues are identified, the department will take strong enforcement action.

As part of the investigation, DES is continuing to conduct interviews with the assistance of the Queensland Police Service.

The Department would like to thank members of the public who provided initial reports about the drums in the waterbody, and the community for providing further information including access to CCTV footage.

As the drums had been punctured, this early advice allowed authorities to remove them before they sank.

Anyone with information in relation to the ongoing investigation, or any pollution events in central Queensland, is urged to contact police, or call the DES Pollution Hotline on 1300 130 372

Anyone with concerns about swimming or consuming seafood harvested from the impacted area should consult their doctor.