Whoever discharged a substantial amount of diesel into the Mullumbimby sewer two weeks ago could be up for a $250,000 fine.
Byron Shire Council is seeking public help to find the cause of the discharge, which contaminated the Brunswick Valley Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) on 14 February.
Byron Shire Council’s executive manager for water and recycling services, Phil Warner, said the diesel discharge had to have been significant given the size of the plant.
As a result of the incident, six megalitres of discharge across 48 hours were injected into the Brunswick River; it contained phosphorus levels above limits set by the Environmental Protection Authority.
But Mr Warner says no untreated diesel was released into the river.
The source of the discharge has been narrowed down to an area in Mullumbimby encompassing Ann to Argyle Streets, Queen to Prince Streets, Station Street to Brunswick Terrace and Tincogan to Mill Streets.
Mr Warner said staff were quick to detect the discharge into the system.
‘The problem was first detected by Council staff when regular monitoring detected samples that were a reddish brown colour, a diesel smell at the plant’s inlet, as well as froth forming on top of the plant’s major process unit,’ he said.
Mr Warner said that the incident was not related to a dark brown stain and cappuccino-coloured foam seen in seawater north of Belongil Creek this weekend.
He said this was more likely caused by stormwater from the Byron Arts and Industry Estate and the Byron CBD, which flows into Belongil Creek.
Anyone with information is urged to contact Byron Shire Council on 6626 7000.’