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District 4 Hazmat incident
At the opposite end of the scale from the Portland hazmat incident last year, the same procedures applied when crews were called out to a pesticide spill on the night of Tuesday April 16 in the Yulecart / Tahara area in the far South West of District 4.
A small spill of the pesticide chemical Malathion at an isolated private property on Murndal Road required CFA, SES, Ambulance Victoria and police attendance to deal with the identification and clean up.
Malathion is a commercial pesticide which, on this occasion, was in concentrate form and very dangerous to anyone who approached it without appropriate protective equipment.
The spill was caused by the glass bottle containing it being dropped onto the path leading into the back door of the farmhouse. The female occupant was splashed on the legs by the chemical and also suffered breathing difficulties while trying to hose it away prior to CFA being called. She was taken to Hamilton Hospital by ambulance for observation.
Tahara and Grassdale brigades responded with their tankers, Hamilton Hazmat and Pumper Tanker responded as did Warrnambool Hazmat. Splash suit and BA-equipped crews from Hamilton were initially sent in to determine the welfare of the occupant and her children and to identify the product which took some time due to the damage to the label.
Once the occupant was decontaminated and the product identified, gas suit crews commenced the process of digging up the contaminated soil and diluting the area by flooding. The CFA Scientific Officer was contacted and, in conjunction with Vicfire Ballarat FSCC Jenny Clow, provided the vital information on the chemical, its hazards and recovery method.
Incident Controller was Merino Group DGO Wayne Munro, Hazmat OIC was Mark Aspinall from Hamilton who worked very closely with Station Officer Paul Marshall from Warrnambool. Operations Officer Brian Brady attended on behalf of RDO4 Peter Novotny. All up there were approximately 30 personnel on scene.
The District 6 HQ brigade welfare trailer was on scene to provide hot and cold drinks to the crews during the event. The trailer is on loan to District 4 for 6 months to evaluate the need for such a trailer in District 4. It got the thumbs up at this incident!
The last crews left the scene at 0100 hours the next morning. The drum of contaminated soil was picked up by the industrial waste company later that day.