[Forum] I write regarding the article ‘Australian Lawyers concerned about 400-hectare ash dam’, published on Page 5, of the Wyong Regional Chronicle on August 22.
Residents living in the northern part of the Central Coast have every right to be concerned about their health and wellbeing, as a dam equivalent to 455 Olympic swimming pools in size gets covered over with a thin layer of dirt, never to be remediated.
Down the track, it is highly likely that it will be left up to taxpayers to cover the cost of remediation of the toxic ash dump, or have the dam simply declared as too expensive to solve the problem and cap it with concrete, as per the Rhodes Peninsula in Sydney. That could be yet another excuse for both the owners and government to build high rise development, major industrial precincts, or Delta’s token Solar Farm, with no benefit for the surrounding communities.
Yet, those same regional communities still have to live with the toxic leachate penetrating the 50-year-old, unlined dam walls, and possibly entering both the Lake Macquarie and Tuggerah Lakes catchments. Delta’s Company Secretary, Steve Gurney, has a total hide to describe community concerns with the structural integrity of the dam to be “mischievous”. It is indicative of the company’s disregard for the regional community’s health and welfare over profi ts during the past decades.
The so called CARE committee is nothing more than a bunch of old blokes pretending to represent the regional community and/or having self-interests. They meet every few months, have a free meal laid on during the Delta meeting and a Christmas cake during the festive season, and very rarely question the validity of what they are being told or the results of the self-monitoring for Delta’s EPA licence approval.
In fact, one of those CARE committee representatives recently wrote in a local newsletter that the depth of capping was three metres. Delta itself, at a Chain Valley Bay Progress meeting, stated that it was only 650mm and now Mr Gurney leads us to believe it is only 450mm. That will be good for new home builders in the future, to find Fly Ash coming up through the ground or uncovering it as they plant the lemon tree in the backyard.
It seems strange that Delta has tried to make out that the thousands of dead trees and erosion issues are due to the horrific fires the region had in 2013. Yet evidence shows that the fi re started on the opposite side of Ruttley’s Rd and never burnt out the site. Delta has now miraculously made the site one of their Bush Regeneration projects by hanging a banner near the highway to tell passing traffic of their environmental credentials.
The other amazing phenomenon is that the RMS roadside sign near the dying trees, warning drivers of the undulations in the highway due to mine subsidence, has now been knocked down and disappeared. Maybe it’s time to have an overhaul of the prescribed dam management procedures, or a total independent Human Health and Environmental Audit, to categorically state that the past and future operations of Delta and its land have no bearing on the number of Cancer clusters in close proximity.
The overhaul could also look at the need for self-monitoring of air quality to stop and be replaced by several EPA official stations, due to currently only having one for the entire Central Coast. As the dams are continually filled in with North Connex and M1 soil, making the new owners a pretty penny, reducing the capacity of the facility to take more fl y ash, Delta continues producing fly ash for at least another decade.
I ask the questions, will the dam expand? By how much? In what direction? What are their intentions in the long term for total remediation? Many more questions need to be answered during the current Senate Inquiry into mine site rehabilitation before this mischievous community terrorist is satisfied that Delta has our wellbeing at heart.
Email, Aug 28 Gary Blaschke, Lake Munmorah