Friends of the Earth Calls for Urgent Restrictions on Herbicide Frequently Detected in Melbourne Waterways

Castlemaine.jpgEnvironmental organisation Friends of the Earth today called for urgent changes to way the herbicide Simazine is registered for use in the Melbourne region.

Simazine has been widely detected in waterways throughout the Melbourne region over the past few years. Levels as low as 0.1 parts per billion can impact on aquatic life.

“It is disturbing that not only has Simazine been detected in Melbourne’s drinking water supply, but also in stormwater in 50 locations throughout the city and suburbs” Friends of the Earth spokesperson Anthony Amis said.

“It appears that Simazine is being applied at high rates across the city, probably around households and commercial sites. Because Simazine is residual it remains active for long periods of time. It can wash off sprayed sites, into the stormwater system, months after application. A recent study in Gippsland found Simazine residues nine years after application.”

A closely related herbicide, Atrazine, has been restricted across Victoria for some time. Atrazine cannot be used without gaining an Agricultural Chemicals User Permit or a Commercial Operators Licence. Atrazine has been restricted because of its ability to pollute waterways and groundwater.

The same restrictions do not apply with Simazine, meaning that anyone can buy Simazine over the counter and apply it without restriction, despite Simazine also having the ability to pollute waterways and groundwater.

Both Atrazine and Simazine are also known as endocrine disruptors, meaning that in tiny amounts they can impact on hormone function in animals and humans. This is of special concern in regards to aquatic life, as both herbicides have the capacity to increase estrogen and decrease testosterone, increasing feminisation of impacted species.

“Friends of the Earth wrote to Minister Peter Walsh in September with our concerns about Simazine, but have had no response” Mr Amis said.

“Friends of the Earth urges Melbournians to avoid the use of Simazine and keep our waterways free from toxic pesticide pollution. The Government has known about this issue for years and has refused to restrict the use of this dangerous herbicide. We should be purifying storm water, not polluting it” Mr Amis concluded.

For more information Anthony can be contacted on 0425 841 564.


A map of Simazine detections can be found here: