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Byron Shire
May 6, 2021

Contaminated soil dumped on Evans Head beach

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Oyster shells and other material have made a mess of Main Beach at Evans Head. (supplied)
Oyster shells and other material have made a mess of Main Beach at Evans Head. (supplied)

A residents’ group in Evans Head is demanding that a dredge operator pay to clean up Evans Head’s Main Beach after dumping contaminated material on it.

The material, which includes oyster shells, shell fragments, shards of glass, metal cans and organic matters, has resulted in visitors avoiding the beach, and some getting cut feet.

The Evans Head Residents for Sustainable Development Incorporated (EHRSDI) has lodged a complaint about the dumping, and is now asking why the Richmond Valley Council is moving the contaminated material further up the beach.

EHRSDI spokesman Dr Richard Gates said the contaminated spoil dumped on the Main Beach opposite the Surf Club during a dredging program last year in the Evans River.

‘A comprehensive photographic record shows that not only was a considerable amount of the spoil not compatible with the beach but that the spoil was taken from parts of the Evans River which were identified as being not appropriate for the beach,’ Dr Gates said.

‘That material should have been removed and bunded as happened with contaminated material from the boat harbour.

He said despite repeated attempts by council to clean the beach of the contamination with a raking program the shell fragments and glass, etc., continue to appear.

‘And a sand cliff has formed at the beach which makes it difficult for Surf Life Saving to get its rescue equipment to the water,’ he said.

Dr Gates said his group had written to the general manager of Richmond Valley Council asking who was paying to move the material further north up the beach, a clear explanation of the strategy behind moving the material, and the results of testing on the material around Christmas time.

‘Council is not solving the problem by moving the contaminated material further up the beach. In our view all the dredge spoil needs to be removed including the organic matter which may act as an attractant for bait fish and sharks,’ Dr Gates said.

‘The cost of this must not be borne by ratepayers or the State government. In our view the cost should be borne by the dredge operator who allowed the material to be put on the beach in the first place. This was not a once off mistake. The contaminated material was dumped on the beach over many days.’

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  1. If people get cut feet then Richmond Valley Council is liable and can be sued for injury when before the dumping it was not likely for people to get cut feet.
    There has been a man-made change in the beach that now can cause injury when council advertises for tourists to visit their beaches.


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