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Hazardous Material Spill, Parramatta River

Published: 18th July 2006

Shortly after 12.30 pm on 15 July 2006, the NSW Fire Brigades (NSWFB) received a triple zero call reporting a hazardous material spill in the Parramatta River, west of Homebush Bay. The NSWFB Hazardous Materials Unit responded and met up with Maritime Services personnel at the Olympic Park ferry wharf. The contaminated area was then investigated by crews in boats, who found a milky substance spread over two kilometres of the river, from the Rydalmere footbridge to the rail bridge at Camellia, much of it spreading among the mangroves.

Firefighters and Sydney Ports Corporation crews laid containment booms to stop the substance spreading. They used skimming equipment to remove most of the material while some contaminant was removed by hand. The operation continued for two days, crews working until Monday afternoon to restore the river. Approximately 850-1000 litres of the material was removed.

Representatives from the Department of the Environment and Conservation, the Department of Primary Industries and Parramatta Council provided advice and analysis. The substance was found to be paint base material. The source of the spill is being investigated.

Ferry services west of Olympic Park were temporarily suspended due to the risk of mechanical damage from the plastic-like film on the water. Normal services resumed mid-afternoon on Monday.