Title: Corio Bay: pollution
Activity: Questions without Notice
Date: 11 November 2009
Mr KAVANAGH (Western Victoria) -- My question is for the Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Gavin Jennings, and relates to pollution and contamination in and around Corio Bay. A Geelong resident, Mr Stan Taylor, has been concerned for a long time about apparent contamination in and around Corio Bay. With few resources, he has been collecting samples of sludge and having them analysed at his own expense. As I speak he is displaying some of those samples on the steps of this building. The initial scientific analysis suggests rates of contamination, including lead and mercury, that are very many times higher than recommended limits. I ask the minister: what does the most recent data available to the government show about the levels of contamination in and around Corio Bay?
Mr JENNINGS (Minister for Environment and Climate Change) -- I thank Mr Kavanagh for the question and the opportunity to talk about the program that is coordinated through the Environment Protection Authority in Victoria to monitor water quality right around Port Phillip Bay, and in this context that includes Corio Bay. This program has been intensified in the last two years due to the increased monitoring associated with the channel deepening program to provide confidence to the Victorian community about the condition of these important parts of the marine environment in Victoria.
I have not been privy to the private research that Mr Kavanagh refers to from Mr Taylor, but I would be very happy to receive any advice and evidence he can bring to bear for us to take account of and compare with the knowledge that has been compiled through the EPA's programs.
I am advised that none of the heavy metals Mr Kavanagh has referred to in his question are evident in quantities that would trigger any environmental alarm or concern within the community. However, I am very happy to have a look at the material Mr Taylor has provided. Heavy metal analysis is part of the program the EPA undertakes on behalf of the Victorian community, and I have received some advice recently about recent monitoring in which the heavy metals Mr Kavanagh refers to have not been evident. Indeed the only elevated feature of analysis that I have been referred to relates to oxidised nitrogen. This information is something that has probably been available in the public domain through the public release of the EPA's material, but whilst there is a heightened level of this element within the monitoring regime it is not at a level that would warrant further examination. However, it is certainly something that warrants our taking note of to be sure that we are mindful of these levels into the future.
I am told that this does not necessarily relate to the channel deepening program because heightened levels of oxidised nitrogen were discovered back in 2002 and they subsequently subsided, so I am happy to share across the chamber with Mr Kavanagh publicly, but also privately, what information we may have available to both of us.
Mr KAVANAGH (Western Victoria) -- I thank the minister for his answer. He referred to the program being undertaken by the EPA and to the study of water quality. What about the foreshore and areas near the foreshore of the bay, not just the water itself?
Mr JENNINGS (Minister for Environment and Climate Change) -- In terms of the absolute technique and the method and whether it relates to foreshore sludge, as Mr Kavanagh has described it, that may be evident along the foreshore, I am happy to take advice on the technique and the method, and perhaps we can compare notes about the best way we can compile evidence to provide some degree of confidence into the future.