Council discusses water contamination

A VERBAL report by a scientific expert on contaminated groundwater at a Millicent timber treatment plant was curtailed at the January monthly meeting of Wattle Range Council in Millicent on Tuesday.

Environment Protection Authority site contamination manager Andrew Pruszinski was answering questions from elected members about the contamination caused by the Miland plant on Saleyards Road.

Mayor Des Noll (OAM) asked Mr Pruszinski about the responsibilities of plant owners in such circumstances.

At this point, Mr Pruszinski said he was unwilling to have his remarks reported in the media.

As a result, councillors took steps to close the meeting to the public under section 90 of the Local Government Act.

At the end of the 20-minute closed session, Mr Pruszinski was approached for comment by The South Eastern Times but declined.

Earlier in his public comments to the council meeting, Mr Pruszinski said all the EPA reports about Miland had been placed on its public register.

“Timber preservation plants use copper chromium arsenate and it has migrated to groundwater,” Mr Pruszinski said.

“This is not unusual and improvements have been made by Miland.

“Contamination was found nearby at a testing well at Lake McIntyre and we advised Wattle Range Council and 177 (downstream) residents to test their water bores.

“We had replies from 43 residents and they said they were grateful to be notified by the EPA.”

In reply to a query from councillor Glenn Brown, Mr Pruszinski said none of the residents’ bore test results had been provided to the EPA.

He said the contamination had occurred a long time ago.

Cr Moira Neagle asked whether a lack of feedback from residents could be taken as an indication they were not concerned.

In response to a query from Cr Dale Price, Mr Pruszinski said most landowners were unaware of their legal obligation to report contaminated ground water to the EPA.

“CCA is incredibly hard to get out of the environment,” Mr Pruszinski said.

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