The Coal Ash Community Alliance (CCA) welcomes the findings of the Inquiry, Costs of remediation of sites containing coal ash repositories, and commends the committee on producing a report that achieves unanimous agreement from members and contains a spectrum of community concerns.
These include pollution impacts affecting both human and environmental health, the often ineffective regulation of ash dumps and the lack of transparency from operators and regulators, the economic and jobs opportunities of recycling coal ash and, last but not least, the closure of Myuna Bay Sport and Recreation Centre.
Research co-ordinator of the Coal Ash Community Alliance, Dr Ingrid Schraner, said CCA’s focus now had to be firmly on ensuring that factories were established right at the ash dams which could process new and dumped ash into environmentally safe products.
“This can be a profitable economic proposition that will give construction industries a boost and create large numbers of ongoing jobs, right here where the communities have suffered for far too long from the effects of coal ash stored in unlined dams,” she said.
CCA member, Bruce Derkenne, said on the topic of Myuna Bay: “I feel it’s important to remember why the general public were dragged into this farce in the first place, and note that the closure of the Myuna Bay Sport and Recreation Centre was condemned by the Committee”.
“The public’s astonishment at the time of closure, and perception of underhanded behaviour were addressed by the Committee, but we are disappointed that the re-opening of the sport and recreation centre was not recommended,” he said.
Gary Blaschke OAM of Lake Munmorah, gave an emotional testimony at the Committee’s first hearing, regarding his own cancer diagnosis.
“The health of communities in regions surrounding all ash dams in NSW has simply been swept under the carpet and totally ignored for decades by the authorities,” he said.
“The recommendation that NSW Health immediately undertake an epidemiological assessment of the health of residents near coal ash dams by December 2022, is well overdue.
“The Committee report notes that there has been little research on the impacts and long term health consequences on surrounding communities, despite previous independent reports into high rates of childhood asthma over the past three decades and cancer in the region being officially six percent above the NSW average.
“We can only hope that whoever conducts the epidemiological assessment is independent from the authorities who have let us down for decades,” Blaschke said.
In light of the Inquiry findings, CCA will continue working to fulfill its aims and hold Government accountable for the implementation of the committee’s recommendations.
CCA invites concerned community members to join an online briefing session about the Inquiry findings on April 1, from 5:30pm to 7pm, in collaboration with the Hunter Community Environment Centre.
Media release, Mar 23
Coal Ash Community Alliance