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The Geelong Advertiser: Dead fish wash up near Shell

Jeff Whalley
Wednesday 28 Feb 07

HUNDREDS of dead fish washed up at a Shell Corio Bay outfall after being caught up at a seawater intake supplying water for refinery cooling.

Victoria’s Environment Protection Authority yesterday said Shell had no case to answer over the deaths of hundreds of fish on Monday as they had not been killed “by result of a pollution incident or discharge of any substance”.

The fish were found by two passers-by late on Monday night at a refinery outfall.

EPA senior manager of rural services John Williamson said the two people quickly alerted his organisation of the incident.

Mr Williamson thanked the alert locals for their quick response.

“An officer attended and observed several hundred small dead fish, mainly black bream, in the vicinity of a Shell Refinery outfall,” he said.

Mr Williamson said the fish were killed when they entered Shell’s seawater intake and passed through a screen and press used to stop seaweed.

“This is an unfortunate incident . . . Shell uses significant quantities of water from Corio Bay for process cooling that is returned to the bay,” he said.

“The water is screened to remove any seaweed and occasionally fish are caught up in this process.”

Mr Williamson said Shell had publicly committed to phasing out the use of salt water from the bay and that the EPA would be “discussing this as a priority”.

A spokeswoman from Shell said the company had invested more than 1000 hours searching for a solution to stop fish getting into the refinery through the saltwater intake.

“This includes using alternative screens, repelling fish or installing fish diversions. To date we have not found a viable solution.  We will continue to discuss this issue with EPA for potential solutions,” she said.

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