Christmas Cove fuel leak on Kangaroo Island remains a mystery

A property owner at Penneshaw says the mystery fuel leak at Christmas Cove after slowing for several months has resumed in the past couple of weeks.

Susan Craig said the fuel was back seeping out of the retaining wall at the back of marina.

She has followed the issue closely has her late husband was one of the people instrumental in developing the marina and she has plans with her partner Mark Simpkin to build tourist accommodation at Christmas Cove.

The SA Environmental Protection Authority in September said fuel no longer appeared to be leaking into Christmas Cove.

The source of diesel and petrol fuels leaking out of the stone wall at Penneshaw remains a mystery.

An EPA spokesperson in September said visual inspections of the site over the past six months found the leak was no longer observed.

The EPA at that time was still investigating potential sources.

Recent soil testing had been undertaken at a site at Penneshaw and the results will be provided to the EPA and then the council "in due course", the spokesperson said.

But Mrs Craig said she was very disappointed to see the fuel leaking out again after some months of the flow abating.

She said she had been in regular contact with the EPA authorities about the mystery leak over the past seven years.

Susan Craig's previous video of the mystery leak

The leak appeared to stop in about June 2021, and at that time she notified the EPA of its cessation.

However, she was surprised to see the leak again just when she visited this month and has again notified the EPA.

Another theory she had was that perhaps a diesel tank used during construction of marina had somehow been buried in the retaining wall.

But she was frustrated that in this modern age the source of the fuel contamination had not yet been determined.

She also said she had been informed that EPA sampling had detected petrol contaminants in the ocean right the way from Kangaroo Head to Hog Bay.

This was also the same stretch ocean were SA Water draws water for its desalination plant, which is about to undergo a significant expansion.

The Islander has contacted the EPA for an updated comment.

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The contaminants have been determined by the EPA to be diesel and petrol fuels that have been present in the environment for between 18 and 34 years.

Chemical analysis has revealed that some of these contaminants are from different sources.

The council became aware of potential contamination within Christmas Cove in 2015. Due to the nature of the contaminants, it was suspected that the source is a near-by petrol station.

The KI Council has been assured a previously leaking tank had been removed by the service station operator.

The councillors also was aware of other potential sources, including unknown buried fuel tanks around Penneshaw.


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