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Byron Shire
June 21, 2021

Alstonville bitumen plant sparks fears

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Ballina Shire Council plans to approve the expansion of activities at Boral’s Bitumen Batching Plant which is in close proximity to the residential area of Alstonville.
I object to this expansion to protect local residents from increasing noise pollution and toxic fumes.
 
An extraordinary meeting has been arranged for Wednesday 10 August @ 4pm to determine this matter.
This is the last day before the currentcCouncil goes into caretaker mode (30 days before the council elections on 10 September).
It is my position that the incoming Council should be determining this DA, and that it is not appropriate to convene an extraordinary meeting on what is effectively the last sitting day of the current Council.
 
If the DA amendment is approved it will dramatically increase the number of trucks on our local roads (up to 32 extra quarry trucks per day on average) and will allow Boral to double the current production rate from 50,000 tonnes to 100,000 tonnes of bitumen per annum, all within a few hundred metres of the residential area of Alstonville.
 
Under Boral’s original EIS the bitumen plant has been classified as a ‘potentially hazardous or offensive industry’ which has a recommended buffer zone of at least 1,000 metres from residential areas and urban development. The explosives and blasting that occurs on site also should not occur that close to residential areas.
 
I have personally smelt the strong bitumen smell from inside a home in the Panorama Estate and felt quite ill as a result.
To make matters worse, the strong bitumen smell was smelt in a six-year-old child’s bedroom and can often be smelt all night long. It is acknowledged that children are at a far greater risk of developing cancer from bitumen fumes.
 
I believe that Council should defer consideration of the Boral DA amendment until the level of PAH’s (cancer causing molecules) in the air are determined.
Current health and safety guidelines also need to be adhered to. It’s also my belief that as the landowner who receives income from Boral, Ballina Council has a conflict of interest and is not putting the health of Alstonville’s residents first.
 
If you are concerned about the acknowledged health impacts on Alstonville residents or extra truck movements please email your local councillors [email protected] before 4pm on Wednesday to ensure that your concerns are taken into consideration.
 
Cr Jeff Johnson, Ballina shire councillor

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