Thursday 23rd of January 2020

Townsville, Industrial capital of QLD?

This weekend will saw a public forum on the Alumina Refinery proposed for the Townsville State Development Area by the Aluminium Corporation of China. The forum is happening because, once again a city in Queensland is having a development dropped in it's lap without any real public consultation, and a lot of people are not happy. The fact is that the TSDA is dangerously close to the CBD of Townsville, and boarders on residential areas, new and old, such as Wulguru, Fairfield Waters, Oonoomba, and Idalia. Other industries, such as a meat works, and cement factory, which are in the same area closed down years ago because of the impacts they were having on the residential community.

There are a lot of concerns here. To start with, the health impacts of the emissions of the refinery. Chalco has broken emissions rules before, and because the development is planned for the TSDA, it is only covered by cut-down environmental laws. Secondly, once one major refining industry sets up shop here, then port will probably be expanded, and Townsville will be a heavy industrial zone from here on in.

The forum, held at the Wulguru Community Centre attracted about 130 people, most of whom were from the general community and had not previously been involved in this campaign. Local and State members spoke about the need for solidarity on this issue, and also to focus on overturning the whole TSDA, else we'll have to scrutinise proposal after proposal until we give up.

The outcomes included people signing a postcard (below), to be sent to Chalco en masse. Anyone wishing to have their voice added to this action please print out the graphic, sign it, and post it to:

Aluminium Corporation of China
C/O Townsville Greens
PO Box 5540
Townsville, QLD, 4810

I need to stress, this is not a party political issue, rather a community action facilitated by the Greens resources.

Four corners film night

Thank you to all those who attended last night's screening of the 4 Corners documentary “Something in the air”[1]. We had about 100 people turn up which is less than we hoped but the discussion which followed the screening was inspiring. It was a genuine grass roots community event and the people who did attend included some key people from Maggie and Woodstock. I believe with a bit of nurturing and follow up, we might just be able to form some sort of loose coalition. That would mean graziers and farmers, the Islanders, the Greens, CAKS, NQCC and locals, which isn't a bad result. :)

The take away messages from the evening were:

  • Stuart is simply a dangerous place to put the refinery

  • Using Woodstock to store the red mud, or to host the entire project
    is equally as ill considered. This is because Woodstock is in the Ross River dam
    catchment, and the Horten River catchment, not to mention the local
    ground water table is used for drinking.

  • Woodstock is home to some of the dwindling available arable land, and wasting land which is fit for cropping on heavy industry is equally as stupid.

  • Considering the continued rise in transport costs, we will need, more and more, locally produced produce.

  • Also we saw how close this site is to the sea - world heritage values, and the Ramsar listed wetland, which he said has more bird species than Kakadu. Surely this is a very significant environmental treasure.

  • The next port of call is stopping the Port Access Rd upon which hinges the whole development of the heavy industry at Stuart.

  • People attended the casino screening who hadn't been at the other forum

  • Copies of Rebecca Smith’s paper on the way the govt. gets around the EPA. (Available on request.)

We need to act now, and continue to act if we are going to make a difference. The postcard campaign wraps up this weekend, so if you have outstanding postcards, please bring them into Mary Who? Bookshop, or find our stall at the Cotters Market. Next, whether or not the Townsville Bulletin gives us a good run, we need to recruit support from further afield.

We encourage everyone who receives this to write a letter to the editor of the Courier Mail[2], and the Bulletin[3], expressing in your own words your concern with placing heavy industry next to an established residential area. I am sending this to almost 1000 people, and if everyone takes 5 minutes out of their day to take this action, even just once, it will make an enormous difference.

Many thanks for your support and watch for the announcement of the Chalco decision.

PS. If there is interest we will show the film again, so please contact me.




From the Courier

From the Courier Mail: 

TAXPAYERS are likely to end up paying for toxic industries to move out of an industrial estate which local residents blame for health problems.

The industries could be relocated outside southeast Queensland but no final decision will be made on the controversial Narangba industrial estate's future until at least the middle of next year.

More than nine months after a massive chemical fire at a factory in Brisbane's north sparked serious health concerns for residents, Premier Peter Beattie yesterday unveiled a four-point plan he said could end with the removal of noxious and hazardous businesses from the estate and the payment of millions of dollars in compensation.


Mt Isa kids 'at lead risk' as tests canned

CHILDREN in the mining capital of Mount Isa have been put at risk by fallout from the city's copper and lead smelters because the Queensland Government has failed to routinely test for lead poisoning.

A senior manager at the state's Environment Protection Agency claims political considerations have stopped the introduction of air-quality monitoring and mandatory community health checks at Mt Isa's two smelters - the largest source of lead emissions in Australia.

The monitoring was recommended 12 years ago after tests revealed the amount of lead in the blood of a third of the city's children who were tested breached World Health Organisation acceptable limits, potentially effecting their IQ and brain development.


All this in the last week, and still the Townsville is in the running for a Alumina refinery, probably a smelter as well, along with a power station, all within 5 KM upwind of the CBD. I guess it's true the electorate stops at the Sunshine Coast.

New community based action group

A new community based air quality monitoring group is being set up around this issue, called the Bucket Brigade.