MAIN Roads pumped floodwater potentially contaminated with road oil and tyre fragments onto sand and into the sea at Port Beach, North Fremantle last week.
The incident happened at about 1pm on Wednesday, June 26.
Witness Peter McLarty saw two men in a truck pumping “black water” from a drain opposite the former Ampol fuel and truck depot on Port Beach Road for about 30 minutes.
Water appeared to be taken from the drain’s sump on the road, across remnant man-made dune dunes covering the depot, over part of the beach and before creating a channel and flowing into the sea.
The site was exposed to the sea in 2003 storms, and Mr McLarty said beachgoers had since seen a “heavy black matter on the previously white sands”.
He said the pumping again showed WA’s environmental laws were not being applied at Port Beach, which has been heavily eroded, exposing historic dredging rubble and contamination including asbestos, since January.
Main Roads said it operated the truck in a photo taken by Mr McLarty, and did not usually dump into the sea.
“The vehicle was attending a flooding incident on Port Beach Road, which spanned two lanes and was over 100 metres long,” spokesman Dean Roberts said.
Asked if the proximity of the old depot was considered before the pumping, Mr Roberts said Main Roads was aware of the site but the water being disposed was stormwater runoff.
“It is not Main Roads’ practice to dispose of stormwater into the ocean and Main Roads is investigating the details of this particular incident,” he said.
Records show fines of $25,000 for unlawful water discharge by Chichester Metals in 2015 and Higginsville Gold in 2016 in WA.
“These fines appear to be fairly low and if the Port Beach discharge is proven to have gone into the sea there is a case for a greater amount given it’s a public area,” National Toxics Network WA secretary Jane Bremmer said.