We are in dire straits and nobody seems to care

The Wyong Regional Chronicle’s front page (July 11) had an article stating that the NSW Labor opposition had made an election promise to ban toxic PFAS, found in the Tuggerah Lakes system, if re-elected next year.
Yet the problem already exists, with no promise or understanding of how to remediate the growing list of environmental disaster sites on the Central Coast.
The NSW Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) should have one basic aim within its agenda, that being to protect the environment.
Yet it is becoming increasingly apparent that the entire organisation is in need of a structural overhaul or needs to be shut down.
Central Coast residents have been let down by this NSW Government authority that has residents quickly losing confidence.
For years, the Central Coast has endured minuscule protection, major industries have been given licences to pollute or allowed to self-regulate, even though many individuals have brought issues to the EPA’s attention.
When living in Sydney, I sat on Orica’s Community Liaison Committee that met regularly regarding the southern hemisphere’s second largest groundwater toxic plume in Botany.
Groundwater had been impregnated with Ethylene Dichloride, a bi-product of manufacturing PVC plastic, which emits toxic fumes and caused respiratory distress, nausea, vomiting and effects to the central nervous system.
Liver or kidney damage usually occurs and it is generally accepted to be a human carcinogen.
The issue was monitored for 14 years by the Contaminated Sites section of the NSW EPA, knowing the location, size and speed (120m per annum) the plumes were approaching Botany Bay, yet until community pressure insisted on them doing something to clean up the mess, I’m sure the monitoring alone would still be carried out today, some 10 years later.
Instead, a massive Reverse Osmosis plant was constructed and the issue is beginning to be remediated.
The Central Coast has many similar “Orica” incidences, such as the Delta Fly Ash storage dams at Doyalson, to the tune of the equivalent to 455 Olympic swimming pools of toxic material, another bi-product of burning coal, being either covered by water or topped with soil to the depth of 650mm for future generations to uncover.
The dam walls are unlined and over 50 years old, showing signs of erosion and possibly leaching into the groundwater, or overflowing into Lake Macquarie during high rain periods.
Along with this current environmental nightmare that has gone on for decades, Vales Point Power Station is assumed to continue to produce Fly Ash for at least another decade, yet the dams are shrinking in their capacity due to the dumping of the Connex spoil from projects in Sydney.
These issues were raised directly with the EPA’s Newcastle Director, Karen Marler, and Programs Officer, Leanne Graham, on several occasions, with answers falling well short as they effectively walked away, seemingly putting it in the too hard basket, or just not concerned about our local environment.
The Torrens University four year Cancer Cluster study on the Central Coast showed that the entire Coast had rates 20 per cent higher than the NSW average for nine types of Cancer, most in close proximity to the power stations.
Yet, official EPA air monitoring stations are far and few when it comes to the Central Coast, with the Hunter/Newcastle area having 20, Sydney 24, Illawarra 8, Regional NSW six and the Central Coast just one, at Wyong racecourse, surrounded by the suburbs most affected by the Cancer Clusters.
Then there is the Mangrove Mountain dump, resulting in the EPA effectively dobbing itself in to ICAC for failing to protect the water catchment, and now we have the Lake Munmorah and Colongra Bay PFAS contamination, following on the heels of the Williamtown disaster.
Sydney EPA contacted me in September 2017, to alert me of their findings.
They indicated to me that they were to investigate the situation and carry out fish testing to see how far the PFAS had spread through the Tuggerah Lakes system.
Nearly 12 months later, their findings have not been released, despite my continual harassment, as the Christmas period would have visitors and locals swimming, skiing and fishing over our busiest period.
The NSW Government’s Central Coast Regional Plan 2036 has earmarked the northern region of the Central Coast for a further 40,500 new homes, amounting to over 101,000 new residents, some 10,500 more than that proposed for the new Badgerys Creek City for Sydney’s new airport.
The Plan also indicates a further $180m of mineral extractions per annum, in the same vicinity as all these environmental disaster sites.
Along with our mine subsidence issues, Wallarah 2 Coal mine approval and Oil/Gas exploration offshore, with the potential of rigs off our iconic beaches, the future does not look too rosy for the Central Coast.
It is apparent that we have many issues that have been swept under the carpet by not only the EPA, as I have raised these issues with our State and Federal Members of Parliament to no avail.
Central Coast Council is also well aware, especially after having had a meeting with Mayor Jane Smith, yet I believe Council to be too slow to react or are too ignorant to the facts.
Having had several stories published by the Wyong Regional Chronicle, interviews on Central Coast ABC, and still having very little response from recognised coastal environmental groups, we are in dire straits.
Unless the stakeholders, being the residents and ratepayers of the Central Coast and our elected representatives stand up and begin to show they care, they need not whinge, when the Coast has a complete makeover to the detriment of our environment and their personal health.

Email, Jul 14
Gary Blaschke, Lake Munmorah

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