Toxic air pollution is what Northern Rivers residents will get if the incinerator that has been touted for the Richmond Valley Jobs Precinct in Casino goes ahead say locals who protested the incinerator on Saturday.
Residents Against the Richmond Valley Incinerator (RARVI) brought around 85 people together to protest the idea of putting a polluting incinerator at Casino that has previously been rejected in Western Sydney because of the air pollution impacts.
‘If it is too polluting for Sydney it is too polluting for Casino,’ said Jo Imming from the National Toxics Network which works with communities to understand the impacts of projects like incinerators.
The NSW State Government introduced regulations that banned incinerators throughout the state due to their pollution impacts on local communities. However, they excluded the Richmond Valley Jobs Precinct at Casino, Lithgow, Golborne and Parkes as sites where incinerators could potentially be built.
The rally raised a series of questions around how Casino came to be one of the four areas put forward by the state government to have an incinerator considering there was no community consultation on the issue prior to them being put forward.
‘This regulation came out of nowhere as far as the community is concerned. There was no community consultation. No one knows who put forward Richmond Valley Jobs Precinct for an incinerator and it was done without any assessment or consultation,’ pointed out Ms Imming.
The Deputy Mayor of Clarence Council spoke to rally along with respected local GP Dr Jurriaan Beek, local farmer Peter Nielsen, ALP candidate for Clarence Leon Ankersmit and Ballina Councillor Adam Guise among others to highlight the serious negative impacts an incinerator would have not only on locals health but on farming, the environment and the broader community.
‘A waste-to-energy incineration facility in Casino would emit dioxins and furans, which belong to a family of compounds known to be highly toxic and cumulative,’ explains Dr Beek.
‘These particles are so small they cannot be effectively filtered. Dioxins have been proven to result in a myriad of harmful medical outcomes, ranging from birth defects to cancer formation, and population studies suggest that there is no safe margin of exposure for humans.’
The Northern Rivers Joint Organisation (NRJO) represents the Ballina, Byron, Kyogle, Lismore, Richmond Valley and Tweed NSW local government areas. They have been looking at a range of waste solutions for the region.
The RVC went ahead with an expressions of interest (EOI) phase in terms of dealing with residual waste. They have received a number of responses that are all based on incinerators but they are yet to share the terms of reference for the EOI or the actual submission with the other councils.
Members of the Richmond Valley Council previously took up offers to travel to Japan to look at waste incinerators. Incinerators have since been a key feature on the approach by RVC in managing waste for the region.
‘Is Casino going to be a sad place with a big, toxic waste incinerator that causes chronic health problems and contaminates air, soil and water? Or will it be a thriving town, famous for its world-class, safe and sustainable beef, dairy and agriculture?’ asks local beef producer Dr Wayne Somerville.
‘Ask your councillors and MPs if they value the well-being of locals over the profits of outsiders.’