THE owner of a tank that leaked hundreds of litres of fuel into the Bungambrawatha Creek has been hit with a $750 fine.
Albury Council issued the fine yesterday under NSW legislation despite concluding the cause of the fuel leak was not malicious and “just human error”.
The accident happened on July 18 when property owner Matt Whitfield was working on an old oil heating system.
The council’s compliance team leader, John Mulvey, said the spill was an accident but Mr Whitfield still had to be held accountable.
“This was an accident but consequences do apply,” he said.
“For more severe incidents there are heavier consequences.”
Mr Mulvey said that Mr Whitfield had been helpful since the spill.
“To his credit he was fully understanding,” Mr Mulvey said.
“He’s been co-operative from the outset.”
Mr Mulvey said he had spoken to several authorities involved in the incident but didn’t yet know the cost of the clean up.
He said people needed to be aware of the dangers of working with old heating systems.
“It’s an unfortunate accident and we’re lucky that on this occasion there won’t be any long-term environmental impacts,” he said.
“We want to remind residents to be vigilant when carrying out any works on old heating systems.
“It’s very easy to make simple error of judgment which could result in serious environmental consequences.”
The fuel entered Bungambrawatha Creek via drain in Poole Street.
Firefighters set up a boom in the creek near the Albury Swim Centre and another 100 metres further downstream next day.
The booms were due to remain in the creek for up to three weeks to prevent fuel reaching the Murray River and residue was hosed down to break it down further.
But fire officers said there was little residual fuel on the waterway and it would gradually deteriorate in sunlight.