Three Tweed Shire Council workers received minor injuries while picking up dumped toxic rubbish last month, prompting an appeal from the council for people to do the right thing with their rubbish.
The workers were splashed with and inhaled fumes from a chemical, thought to be hydrochloric acid, while removing an illegally dumped pile of rubbish along Clothiers Creek Road.
The chemical involved in the incident was stored in a plain, white, 5L plastic container with no warning labels.
On inspection after the incident the container was found to be bubbled and showed signs of chemical reaction.
The council’s Manager Infrastructure Delivery Tim Mackney said the incident, which occurred just prior to Christmas, could have resulted in tragic outcomes for those involved.
‘Thankfully on this occasion these workers avoided severe injuries but that doesn’t alter the fact that this substance could have been taken to the tip by the residents and disposed of safely for free – which would have avoided all risks,’ Mr Mackney said.
He pointed out that Tweed residents can take up to 20L of household chemicals to the permanent chemical collection facility at Stotts Creek Resource Recovery Centre for free, all-year-round.
Products such as pesticides, herbicides and poisons, solvents and household cleaners, pool chemicals, acids and alkalis and hobby chemicals, are accepted at Stotts Creek and then sent away to be processed safely, with some broken down and recycled for use in other products.
The council’s Coordinator Waste Management Rod Dawson said the number of illegal dumping issues they have been dealing with were stretching the council resources.
‘We don’t have crews standing by to pick up illegally dumped rubbish which means these workers are pulled off other jobs,’ Mr Dawson said.
‘I’m sure the ratepayers of Tweed Shire would rather they were doing what they are being paid for than picking up rubbish and causing delays to community projects.’
He said households with red wheelie bin services which require a kerbside bulk rubbish collection can call 02 6670 2400 or book online at www.tweed.nsw.gov.au/householdcleanup.
A full list of materials which may be collected in the two annual collections each household is entitled to can also be found online.