We all know that the dumping of heavy metals in our oceans has been going on since the industrial revolution.
The deep blue sea has been a convenient hiding place for waste of every description. We also know that since the world has become collectively aware of the slow destruction of the earth by man’s raping and pillaging of it, these practices have slowed markedly.
So it comes as a surprise to learn that Sydney Water has been revealed the nation’s biggest dumper of mercury into Australian waters. A total of 40 kilograms of the toxic metal has been pumped out of its deep ocean outfall pipes at Manly and Malabar in the past year.
Academics Australia-wide have come out against the organisation in order to highlight and shame them into at the very least lowering the amount.
Water quality expert Dr Ian Wright, from the University of Western Sydney, said the amount of waste dumped reflected the “sort of trade waste that Sydney Water is willing to accept”.
Nature Conservation Council chief executive Kate Smolski was appalled at the company being caught out again dumping great loads of it into our coastal waters.
“Sydney Water and the Environment Protection Authority [the regulator] are both failing to meet the community’s legitimate expectations, and we call on the Baird government to tell the public how it intends to rectify this intolerable situation,” she said.
The report, by scientists from the National Marine Science Centre, the Marine Ecology Research Centre and the School of Health and Human Sciences at the Southern Cross University and the NSW Fisheries department, was published in the Marine Pollution Bulletin journal. One of the most damning claims the report made was that some shark species found in these waters and commonly used in fish and chips should be limited.
These claims back up a report made in 2006 by Associate Professor Stephen Corbett, director of the Centre for Population Health, published in the Medical Journal of Australia in which it was revealed that children who were eating almost daily serves of fish had mercury levels up to seven times the maximum safe level and were being treated for developmental delays or neurological problems.
Sydney Water’s sewage plants at North Head and Malabar discharges sewage into the ocean after scraping the solids out of the waste – a practice referred to as “primary treatment.”
As spokesman for the organisation suggested that the spike in mercury levels could be associated with water washing into the plants during heavy rainfall, waste from dental facilities, personal dental fillings and possibility illegal sewer connections.
Most of those who are highlighting these appalling results recommend improved treatment processes, which exist in other parts of the world, before the sewage is pumped into the sea.