Sydney Water have confirmed a large fuel spill was contained at North Head, Manly.

Shortly after 7.30am Friday morning (10 May), Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) Manly Station responded to a report of a large fuel spill at the Sydney Water North Head Water Resource Recovery Facility at Bluefish Drive, Manly. The facility is also known as the North Head wastewater treatment plant, and deep ocean outfall.

Arriving at the facility just before 8.00am, firefighters from Manly Station were led to the incident location inside a building on the site containing a large amount of high-voltage plant equipment. They were advised by on-site staff that a diesel spill had occurred, possibly involving up to two thousand litres of fuel.

A significant quantity of fuel had gone into a drainage system, and firefighters immediately called for the attendance of specialised Hazmat firefighters from Forestville Station. After advising them of the situation, additional Heavy Hazmat crews were called in from Alexandria and St Marys.

Consulting with on-site staff about the danger posed by the high-voltage plant equipment, firefighters used bunding and absorbent material to capture as much of the spilled fuel as possible.

They decanted fuel caught by the bunding into large hazmat bins, and used absorbent material to soak up additional fuel, which was also then scooped up and placed into the hazmat containers.

Firefighters were able to confirm the spilled fuel was retained within the facilities drainage system, and had not escaped into stormwater. With the spill safely contained, they departed just after midday, leaving the hazmat bins in the possession of Sydney Water staff to arrange for safe disposal.

A spokesperson for Sydney Water confirmed the incident, estimating the amount of fuel released to be around 800 litres. They said the operations of the plant had not been affected and the spill had been effectively contained.

“At around 7.00am around 800 litres of diesel spilled at Sydney Water’s North Head Water Resource Recovery Facility.

“The spill happened in a building and was quickly and fully contained on site with no impact to the environment.

“Fire and Rescue Hazmat crews were called to assist with the cleanup which was completed around 12.00pm.

“There were no injuries and no interruptions to normal plant operation,” said the Sydney Water spokesperson.

The North Head facility treats 336 million litres of Sydney’s wastewater each day, for an area covering 452 square kilometres from Seven Hills to Bankstown, and including the Northern Beaches.

Its operation is governed under strict licensing conditions by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and it is expected a NSW EPA investigation into the incident will be conducted.

Image: Northern Beaches Advocate

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