Do the cars that ended up in Wilsons Creek pose a significant health risk owing to leaching toxins?
And who is responsible for them, and when will they be removed?
Wilsons Creek residents contacted The Echo to raise these questions.
When asked, Council staff replied, ‘We are aware of debris in creeks in the hinterland, including cars’.
‘Waterways are the responsibility of Crown Lands, and the clean-up of them after the floods sits between the NSW EPA and Crown Lands.
‘Where items in the waterways, including car bodies, are reported to Council we have passed this information onto the NSW EPA and Crown Lands.
‘The last thing we want to see is any further pollution or damage to waterways, including the creeks in the hinterland. People should report cars, and other rubbish, in the creeks to the NSW EPA Environment Line on 131 555 or by email: [email protected].
‘When they submit a report, it should include the type of debris, the location, nearest access point and photos. We know it is important to have this rubbish removed and we are working with the EPA and Crown Lands to identify funding and resources to allow this to be actioned as soon as possible’.
The questions were also put to the NSW Department of Planning and Environment – Crown Lands.
A spokesperson told The Echo, ‘Crown Lands, the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and Byron Shire Council will liaise to identify the location of the vehicles and determine appropriate action to have them removed’.
The Echo asked for a timeline for the work to begin, but received no reply.
The EPA was also asked if there was an estimated time for this work, and, ‘Should residents be taking precautions regarding any potential toxins that could be leaching into the water?’
An EPA spokesperson replied, ‘The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is currently inspecting the locations of the vehicles reported in the Wilsons Creek area, and making assessments with Crown Lands and Byron Shire Council’.
‘The timing of the removal of vehicles will be determined by a number of factors, including the accessibility of locations, and whether it is an insurer’s responsibility to remove the vehicles.
‘Further updates will be provided to those impacted by the vehicles in Wilsons Creek during this process.
‘The community is encouraged to avoid waterways if they are impacted by pollutants.
‘Please visit the EPA website – www.epa.nsw.gov.au – for more tips about water safety following floods.
‘If you see a potential incident with serious environmental impacts, please contact the Environment Line immediately on 131 555 or by email at [email protected]’.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson from water utility, Rous County Council, told The Echo that Laverty’s Gap weir water supply into Mullumbimby is managed by Byron Shire Council.
‘Our Wilsons River Source, just north of Lismore, which has the Wilsons Creek within its catchment, was severely damaged during the February 28 flood, and is not currently able to operate, and will remain that way for some time.
‘Our Rocky Creek Dam water source is supplying the region’s water needs currently and has been since the floods.
‘Emigrant Creek Dam is another available source for us, which is typically used when Rocky Creek Dam drops below 95 per cent, which hasn’t occurred recently’.