Leaking oil drum dumped into Ferntree Gully’s Blind Creek

The barrel was found dumped in Blind Creek. Picture: FROGY

By Parker McKenzie

A 44-gallon oil drum was dumped into the Ferntree Gully-end of Blind Creek in early May, resulting in oil spilling as far as 50 metres from where the barrel was found.

The Friends of the Gully (FROGY), a special interests group focused on the Blind Creek corridor from the Dandenong Ranges National Park to the Belgrave Railway Line, found the drum and reported it to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Melbourne Water, but the extent of the damage once the barrel was removed is hard to quantify.

FROGY’s Robin Madsen said she discovered the barrel while working with the council to weed and replant the area.

“We’re focused on the top, but we’ve started working down in the bottom area and I was checking it out when I saw a barrel and a hydrocarbon plume floating away from that,” she said.

“I work in the contaminated land industry, and I would normally expect to see these plumes in quite industrial, highly contaminated areas where there was a lot of heavy industry in the past, but not in a creek like this out in Ferntree Gully.”

Ms Madesen originally thought the barrel may have been there for a while, but on closer inspection and after a conversation with a council worker it was established it was recently dumped.

“It’s occurred to me there’s probably been a couple of episodes where they tipped other oil previously into the water,” she said.

“They’ve probably gone to tip more stuff into the creek and perhaps the whole barrel slipped down the banks because they’re quite steep there.”

She said once reported, the EPA and Melbourne Water within two hours to remove the barrel.

“One of the issues is the oil itself can stick to bugs, critters and birds that we’re trying to protect and can break down their protective layers,” Ms Madsen said.

“It can also create a lack of oxygen in the creek and the plants and animals can die.“

Ms Madsen said if anyone notices something like an oil barrel in a creek or water source, they should definitely call the EPA as soon as possible.

“if they see anyone doing it, just grab the number plate of the car or the vehicle and let EPA know.,” she said.

“We just need to look after this planet, we’ve only got one chance.”