Community Requests to Government
Governments are quick to say they write strict controls into development orders to ensure that dust creation by quarries is minimised. Unfortunately these controls are seldom or adequately policed. There is ample evidence showing that quarry companies, who self regulate their fallout, push the boundaries in their own favour. Quarry companies seldom follow world's best practice unless they are forced to. What is worse is that governments don't practice what they preach either. Governments placate local communties with the promise that quarry companies will be forced to do the right thing but then do very little to ensure that this promise is actually fulfilled. It means that the rhetoric and the enforcement are at odds. The end product is that it is left up to the community to agitate to ensure that quarry companies follow the rules. The sad truth is that community members who catch quarry companies cutting corners (and forced to do the job that government departments should be doing) have to go through a complaints process that is very convoluted, extremely unpleasant and racked in favour of the quarry.
Individually Hanson's expansion plans may seem reasonable, but there are 3 other huge quarries in the Darlington Range. Cumulatively they make up a major superquarry and residents will be asked to cope with the fallout from a combined total of 5mill tonnes of rock extraction and crushing. Without strict controls the adverse effects of this size of quarry output are worrysome. With a history of lax government policing over many years the long term health problems of residents living in nearby housing estates is now becoming a major concern, especially increasing silica dust in the air.
A component of the rock in the Darlington Range is silica, a glass like substance. Silica crushed in quarries, unlike sand on beaches, has sharp microedges. When this silica is released into the air, through crushing, it travels in the wind as dust. Over time, breathing in silica has the capacity to severly affect the respiratory system. The sharp micoedges are inhaled into the lungs, accumulate, and do irreparable damage. Silicosis is a known killer. Quarries that operate without covers on their crushers and conveyor belts plus do not spray enough water to dampen the dust created during the quarry process is a serious health risk, moreso because Darlington Range quarries create dust 6 days a week from early morning till late afternoon. If dust continues to be the problem tomorrow as is obviously is today this leaves quarries open to class action in court.
Dust particles eventually fall to earth but how far away from the quarry that generates it is dependent upon the size of the dust particles released and the intensity and speed of the wind at that time. All areas surrounding quarries suffer varying degrees of dust fallout. The largest particles of dust lands closest to its source and the biggest accumulation of dust can be found downwind of prevailing winds. Heavy dust particles are easily measured. This "heavy" dust is unhealthy to animals and plants but the most pernicious dust, the dust that is not easily seen by the naked eye - micro dust - moves over long distances and gets inhaled far from where it is created. All dust settles eventually but if the wind intensifies it remobilises the dust back up into the air. This means, in effect, that the dust problem is injurious to health when we can see it and even more injurious when we can't see it. With more efficient scientific measuring instuments available the day is soon coming when enough evidence will be gathered to show that dust is responsible for major health problems in communties that live near quarries. The day will eventually come when quarry companies that do not show reasonable responsibility in limiting the dust they create (and goverment departments that do not adequately police the dust controls written into development orders) will be asked to present their case in a class action.
The effects of dust on human respiration is well known.
What is not realised is that dust contaminates water
supplies in areas where there is no town water available
(ie: rainwater harvesting from roofs) and also does
damage to the health of both animals (wild and domestic)
and flora and fauna living in the surrounding Darlington
Range envionment. The Ormeau Bottle Tree, recently
listed by the Australian Government as a protected
species, has existed in the Darlington Range for
thousands of years. The area is now being coveted by
quarries who have purchased land and set this land aside
in anticipation of gaining mining rights. Quarries are
located very close to protected stands of this tree and dust and vibrations emitted from quarry operations are undoubtedly having a negative effect on this tree's future. This future will be cut short by quarry companies that do not fulfil their obligations with regard to following the rules in their development orders. Dust from quarry operations negatively affects every living thing that happens to live nearby - whether it be humans or wild or domestic animals or native flora and fauna. It is up to our government to ensure that quarries do everything to mitigate their dust output and that includes setting up dust monitoring systems that the community can assess. This happens in Springwood so why can't it happen in the Northern Darlington Range.
The petrology report in Hanson's application states a typical rock sample from the quarry contained 3% asbestos type rock and 37% silica. Both are known to cause lung cancer. The quarry must cease to operate until it can ensure the no dust is escaping from their site.
Real time electronic dust monitors must be installed a various locations on 20m high poles around the site to monitor PM10 dust rising vertically into the atmosphere by being uplifted on the air thermals created above the quarry due to the effect of sunlight hitting the exposed rock. This information to be made public online.
Trucks carrying quarry product must be sealed to prevent asbestos type rock and silica becoming airborne along haul routes and roads.
Trucks to be fitted with dust suppression fogging nozzles on their tailgates for dust suppression during tipping of quarry products at delivery points.
The quarry must, with every truckload of product, supply customers with safety data sheets warning of the existence of crushed asbestos type rock and silica and describing safe handling procedures.
There is insufficient water storage for dust suppression during drought and to counter evaporation there needs to be storage constructed the equivalent of 25mm of rain per day over all exposed areas for the duration of a 1 in 100 year drought. It is suggested that recycled water from the wastewater plants is piped to the site so the water required for environmental flows in local creeks is not used for dust suppression.
The federally listed critically endangered Ormeau Bottle tree is known to be on site and this fact was not notified to the Federal Government. There has been no assessment or protection of the Ormeau Bottle tree habitat onsite required for the expansion and recovery of the species.
A wildlife corridor needs to be constructed through the site to link the Significant Bahrs Scrub Habitats to the regional ecosystem of the Darlington Range.
The 10metre buffers on the eastern edge of the quarry are insufficient and the existing finished quarry face needs to have topsoil placed on the benches and revegetated with fine leaved irrigated native trees to act as wind breaks for dust suppression.
Contrary the progressive rehabilitation of the site in the original approval this application notifies the end use of the quarry will be industrial uses therefore requiring an environment offset to be supplied sufficient to compensate for the losses of this whole area.