Vasse groundwater contamination | Neighbours united

Two of the residents Kim Maslin and Terry Clifton affected by the groundwater contamination.
Two of the residents Kim Maslin and Terry Clifton affected by the groundwater contamination.

Vasse residents affected by groundwater contamination caused by landfill run off remain united to seek answers and compensation from the City of Busselton.

Under the Contaminated Sites Act 2003 the city are responsible for remediation of affected sites because the contamination originated from the Busselton Waste Facility.

The city have until June 15 to provide the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation a remediation plan.

In a letter sent to residents, DWER stated the contamination posed a potentially unacceptable risk to human health and the environment.

Some residents had a memorial placed on their title to notify future buyers about the contamination status and restriction on use of groundwater.

A Department of Health spokesperson said while the area remained under investigation they did not recommend people cook with or drink bore water without regular testing because groundwater may be naturally high in metals and other contaminants.

“The potential for health effects to occur will depend on a number of factors including the contaminant, its concentration and the period over which the contaminated water is consumed.”

The spokesperson said soil to plant transfer of organic contaminants was typically low and dependent on the soil and produce type and recommended following advice by DWER and the city while under investigation.  

City of Busselton director of engineering and works services Oliver Darby said the extent to which each property may or may not be impacted had to be assessed on its own merits.

Mr Darby said by 2012, tests from ongoing groundwater monitoring at the waste site indicated exceedances of criteria for certain contaminants required investigation into groundwater quality at adjoining properties. 

He said none of the contaminants under investigation at the time exceeded relevant health criteria. However, in 2016 the city was required to extend the suit of contaminants being investigated.

“And, as a consequence, detected exceedance of health criteria of certain contaminants of concern. This prompted the investigations being expanded.”

Mr Darby said groundwater up-gradient of the former tip also contained contaminants not related to it, but to other historical practices or land uses.

As part of the city’s investigation into contaminated groundwater in Vasse, Mr Darby said liability issues would need to be considered and resolved.

“That is clarity as to whether and to what extent other sources caused or contributed to the contamination,” he said.

At a community meeting attended by around 50 residents about the 18 properties which were affected by contaminated groundwater, residents said the city had not been proactive in coming forward with solutions. 

Residents said the city had waited for them to approach the city, stating the issue had been going on for many years.

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