Chlorine crisis passes, creeks safe

SAWTELL’S Middle and Bonville creeks are safe to enter now that the chlorine crisis had passed.

The creeks were declared off limits to swimming and fishing on Monday following the spillage of 7500 litres of sodium hypochlorite from the Sawtell sewage treatment works.

It is not known just how much of the liquid chlorine made it into the waterways but the city council put up warning signs to ensure the public’s safety.

“The signs have been taken down because the spill has been contained and there are no detectable levels of chlorine in the creeks,” a city council spokeswoman said yesterday.

It is understood the continual rain has helped to dilute the toxic chemical even more quickly.

Sodium hypochlorite is used to disinfect reclaimed water produced by the treatment plant.

The release of the chemical is believed to have been caused by mechanical failures but the incident did not affect the plant’s operation.

The results of water samples taken by council staff showed low levels of chlorine in local waterways on Monday, levels permissible in tap drinking water, according to the council.

Fire crews were called to the plant at 1am on Monday when alarms notified city council staff of the spillage.

Hazardous materials firefighters and the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water staff arrived en masse to manage the spill and assess the implications.

Holidaymakers and locals were warned to stay out of the water until it was declared safe.

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