Former Spotswood Terminal Groundwater Restriction Zone
Mobil is currently investigating the groundwater conditions close to its former Spotswood Terminal located at 44 – 76 Simcock Avenue, Spotswood.
The former Terminal was used as fuel and chemical distribution terminal until operations ceased in 2009. Since then, we have demolished all infrastructure. Investigation and remediation work has been completed under the oversight of the Environment Protection Authority of Victoria (EPA) and its appointed Environmental Auditor. The Environmental Audit Report is expected to be submitted to the EPA by the end of April 2023 and, subsequently, will be publicly available on the EPA’s website.
In line with requirements of the EPA, we have been conducting environmental investigations to also understand any potential impacts to nearby surrounding soil and groundwater. The initial environmental investigations indicate that the local groundwater may have been impacted by the terminal’s historical operations. As a result, the Auditor has recommended restricted use of groundwater in this area. The map below outlines the area which is impacted by this restriction.
Mobil will continue to assess the situation by testing the groundwater from our current and additional groundwater monitoring wells in the local area. Mobil will post updates as our ongoing investigations progress and when there is a change to the groundwater use in the area. Throughout this process Mobil will continue to engage with the EPA to develop any necessary future assessment plans and longer-term management plans based on the results of these investigations.
Groundwater Restriction Zones in Victoria
Defining an area of restricted groundwater use is a routine EPA Victoria response to groundwater contamination resulting from past industrial activity. There are over 100 restricted use areas across Victoria, including several already declared within the Hobsons Bay City Council area. The purpose of these areas is to limit use of groundwater bores in areas where groundwater quality is affected.
Further generalised information on areas of restricted groundwater use, and groundwater contamination in general, is available here on the EPA Victoria website.
Groundwater in the Restriction Zone
The groundwater in the affected area is naturally at around 8 metres deep and is too salty for human consumption regardless of the presence of residual contamination.
Based on our searches, there are no registered bores (for any use) in the affected area. The land-use setting and availability of mains water suggests it is unlikely the groundwater will be used in the future.
However, our investigations indicate that the groundwater is impacted by chemicals associated with the former terminal. The primary chemicals present in groundwater are dissolved organics, dissolved heavy metals, and light non-aqueous phase liquid (LNAPL). Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have also been detected. The map below illustrates where these substances have been detected.
Property owners or occupants have been notified that groundwater should not be extracted and used until further notice.
Is my drinking water impacted?
The mains water supply in the area of the Groundwater Restriction Zone is provided by Greater Western Water and is not impacted in any way.
I live or work in the area. How am I affected?
The residual groundwater contamination does not pose a health risk to occupants of buildings in the area provided the groundwater is not extracted and consumed.
Groundwater impacts are unlikely to pose an unacceptable vapour risk to routine maintenance workers undertaking shallow excavation work/trenching.
What is Mobil doing to fix this?
We will be undertaking works to better understand any potential impacts that may be attributed to our Terminal and to determine what, if any, further actions may be required.
At this stage, our planned investigations include:
• Continued groundwater monitoring around the Terminal site.
• Installation of additional groundwater monitoring wells to the west of the Terminal to better understand impacts to groundwater in that direction.
Will the restrictions be removed?
Mobil will post updates as our ongoing investigations progress and when the EPA has removed any restriction on groundwater use. Throughout this process Mobil will continue to engage with the EPA to develop any necessary future assessment plans and longer-term management plans based on the results of these investigations.
Why is the soil not impacted?
The residual groundwater impacts will not affect the quality of the surface soil at your property. The environmental investigations completed to date have shown that groundwater is located more than 8 metres below ground level within the vicinity of the site, therefore it does not affect the soil.
How does this affect my property?
The impacted groundwater associated with the area of restricted groundwater use does not put restrictions on the use or development of your land/property. Further, associated vapour risks are unlikely to pose an unacceptable risk for residential, commercial or industrial land uses where a single-storey basement may be proposed. You are not responsible for any costs associated with any future decisions on the need for clean-up of the groundwater contamination associated with the former Spotswood Terminal.
What are my responsibilities as a property owner or manager in the affected area?
Under Section 39 of the Environment Protection Act relating to the Duty to Manage Contaminated Land, a person in management or control of contaminated land must minimise risk of harm to human health and the environment. The following summarise the minimum management actions that should be implemented by you such that the risk of harm to you as a result of the residual groundwater contamination is acceptable:
1) If you wish to extract the groundwater from any existing or future bore or monitoring well within the area of restricted groundwater use, you should test the water and obtain expert advice on the suitability of the water for the intended use or disposal.
2) If you wish to develop a basement greater than one storey i.e., more than 3 m below ground, an assessment of the vapour risks by a suitably qualified Environmental Scientist should be undertaken.
3) If you sell your land/property prior to the area of restricted groundwater use being removed, you must notify future prospective purchasers of the existence of the area of restricted groundwater use.
What causes contamination?
Groundwater can become contaminated from a range of sources. Some of these include sewage, waste, run-off from farms, stormwater and industrial pollution (contaminants include chemicals such as TCE and PFAS).
What are the dissolved organics and heavy metals?
The detected contaminants in groundwater are monocyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (MAHs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), total recoverable hydrocarbons (TRH), and metals (such as arsenic, copper, manganese and nickel).
What is LNAPL?
Liquids such as oil, petrol, or diesel fuel are less dense than water and do not easily mix in water. Light non-aqueous phase liquid, or LNAPL, is the technical term used for such substances in reports and discussions.
What is PFAS?
PFAS stands for per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances which are manufactured chemicals used in products that resist heat, oil, stains and water. The chemicals have been used in Australia and around the world in many common household products and specialty applications.
PFAS has also been used in firefighting foams used extensively worldwide and within Australia. Firefighting foams were historically stored at the Terminal which is why it is present in the groundwater around the Terminal.
Who should I talk to if I have concerns?
For further information on groundwater in the vicinity of your property and regarding the area of restricted groundwater use, please contact Mobil. Contact details for the EPA and the Auditor are also provided for your reference.
Mobil Oil Australia Pty Ltd
664 Collins Street
Docklands, VIC 3008
Phone: (03) 9261 0000
Mr Charlie Barber, Environmental Auditor
Australian Environmental Auditors
Suite 21, 1 Ricketts Road
Mt Waverley 3149
Phone: (03) 8542 7500
Environmental Audit Unit
GPO Box 4395
Phone: 1300 372 842
Further general information on areas of restricted groundwater use, and groundwater contamination in general, is available on the EPA Victoria website.