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    Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection and Minister for National Parks and the Great Barrier Reef
    The Honourable Steven Miles

    Environmental testing continues around train derailment near Julia Creek

    Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection and Minister for National Parks and the Great Barrier Reef
    The Honourable Steven Miles

    Thursday, December 31, 2015

    Environmental testing continues around train derailment near Julia Creek

    Environmental protection officers will continue monitoring the site where a freight train carrying sulfuric acid derailed about 20kms east of Julia Creek.

    Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection, Dr Steven Miles said the officers were testing water up to eight kilometres downstream of the train derailment.

    Dr Miles said tests yesterday (Wednesday) showed lower pH levels up to 3 kilometres downstream of the rollover. He said officers had recorded pH levels of 3 close to the spill and levels returned to neutral pH levels approximately 3km downstream.

    “This tells us some of the sulfuric acid has made its way into the waterways,’’ Dr Miles said. “Acidic water is a concern because it can kill fish and riparian vegetation.

    “That's why we recommended the response team use lime to neutralise the water and return it to a more normal pH.

    “Response crews have accessed locally sourced limestone which will be aerially applied to the area. Lime filled sandbags will also be placed across Horse Creek to treat flows already in the creek.

    “Adding limestone to waterways is considered safe and effective, and has been used for many decades to treat waterways with acidic water. 

    “We will continue monitoring and providing advice as to how best to address any environmental impacts,’ Dr Miles said.

    The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection is assisting Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) and the Queensland Police Service (QPS) in response to the train derailment.

    QPS is coordinating a recovery operation plan, and EHP is providing environmental scientific advice to minimise environmental harm.

    “I want to personally thank those dedicated EHP and QPS officers, who would otherwise be on holiday at this time of year, for their quick response,’ Dr Miles said.

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