East Perth Power Station
Initial complaints about River pollution related to very visual waste that had an impact on recreation such as swimming and boating. Headlines in the 1950s and 1960s for instance conveyed the visual impacts of pollution. The oil pollution, ash beds and general spillages from the Power Station and the Gas Works at East Perth is well documented. The Swan River Reference Committee’s Report on Pollution of the Swan River in 1955 gives an indication of the extent of the problem:
"In the morning, with an outgoing tide and a light SE wind, oil film covered practically the whole surface of the water from the northern e of the Causeway Island to the Bunbury Railway Bridge, with heavier concentrations close inshore along the right bank. Along this bank a dirty high water mark can be distinctly seen on the rushes, and closer to the Gasworks, rushes and natural growth bordering the river have been killed by oils and tars, etc. The river banks here are black with oil and tar scum." 
The waste from the East Perth Power Station was also impacting on water quality. A 1950 newspaper article headed ‘Power House Drainage Ruins River Beaches’, tells of the desolate stretches of mud and grey-black material, added to 24 hours per day by scum and ooze from the power station. These areas were once beaches and yachting courses. Maylands Rowing Club members had by then left to join other clubs where their plates did not snag in the mud and where creosote from the gasworks was not a menace to their eyes and throats. 
The Minister for Works admitted that the decision to allow the SEC to pump clean ash into the area was made to speed up filling the area because the dredge Stirling was about to be sent to Bunbury. He added:
"ash is quite a clean material and no pollution of the river or temporary discoloration of the water beyond the immediate vicinity would result……. No possible cause of pollution could come from the disposition of the ashes but that, in fact, a low-lying, mosquito-breeding swamp was being changed into a level and wide river bank which, when covered with grass would be both useful and ornamental." 
The Swan Brewery, established on the foreshore on Mounts Bay Road in 1879 made use of the abundant spring water and also the river waters for the discharge of liquid wastes. The effluent was often visible in the waters surrounding the Brewery and was a problem for many years. The amount and type of discharge was subject to a permit from 1961 and improvements were made to industrial practices and waste was discharged further out into the River. The problem was resolved with the brewery move in the late 1970s.
Page last updated: Tuesday 23 November 2010