Magnetic Island North Queensland
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July 28th 2011
Letter: Why Cockle Bay is the best location

In advance of a resident briefing to be held on Saturday over the siting of the yet-to-be-constructed Magnetic Island Waste Transfer Station, Dr Geoffrey P. Dobson, a holiday home owner at Picnic Bay makes his case against Picnic Bay being the location for the MI Waste Transfer Station.

Why the Waste Transfer Station should NOT be at PICNIC BAY:
Environmental, Health, Safety and Business Concerns

The Townsville City Council has the civil obligation to provide leadership and direction on strategic planning on Magnetic Island. This civil obligation extends to the local residents, holiday-makers and business community of Picnic Bay. If the proposed location of the Waste Transfer Station is built at the current Picnic Bay landfill site, the exponential increase volume of waste, trucks and roll-on, roll-off bins would compromise the day-to-day quality of life and safety of its residents, destroy local tourism and negatively impact on the business revitalization plans of the Picnic Bay Mall. In addition, the Waste Station has the potential to reduce property values and displace community activity.

Picnic Bay is an historic site and the construction and fully operational Waste Transfer Station in this area will also affect the local environment.

Placement of the Waste Transfer Station at Picnic Bay will negatively impact on the pristine marine environment of the Bay from possible seepage of waste and existing pollutants into the underground NATURAL watercourse. This natural watercourse directly flows via Butler Creek into Picnic Bay from the site and degrades values and use*, and is intensified after large rainfalls. On July 11, 2011 Locals have documented in the Magnetic Community News (Vol 22, Issue 11; author Mr John Smeaton) that they have had waste in their properties from the landfill after a heavy rainfall.

*Reference: From “Human Uses and values of Waterways”: Results from the Magnetic Island Workshop (Tuesday 22 July 2008, Acadia, as parto Black/Ross water Quality Improvement Plan (WQIP). http://www.docstoc.com/docs/31650353/%28Microsoft-Word---black-ross-human-use-table-MIslandv6-workshop

Reasons for why the Water Transfer Station should NOT be constructed at Picnic Bay are the following:

HEALTH AND SAFETY CONCERNS
*Loss of Resident’s Health and Safety (Picnic Bay has an elderly population with respiratory and cardiovascular disease).
*Poor air quality and related health concerns from emissions of idling diesel-fueled trucks waiting to unload and from particulate matter such as dust and glass from the facility.
*Large volume of trucks as a potential danger to pedestrians along the very narrow roads and turning into the facility location.
*Increase in disease-carrying vectors such as rodents, other vermin, roaches because the facility is outdoors
*Increased noise, odor, litter, and turning traffic
*Fire from self-combustion of waste and its impact on residences of Picnic Bay
*Straining of the current health care facilities and the high cost of health care on Magnetic Island.

NUSIANCE AND QUALITY OF LIFE
*Loss of Quality of Life in Picnic Bay from noise, dust and odor which will be intolerable to nearby residents
*Loss of tourism which is vital for Island business
*A visual Eyesore: Dust-laden, unsightly “recycling” activities will take place in open air. Piles of trash/material will accumulate and is located along the roadside. Fences will NOT solve this problem as there is only one roadway entrance to Picnic Bay, with proposed site location on the right hand side coming down the hill.
*The construction and full-operation of the facility will disturb current fill and has the potential to shift the existing underground pollutants and toxic wastes, in addition to adding new ones, into the watercourse which which flows directly into the sea and will threaten the fragile marine life of Picnic Bay.
*Displace community revitalization plans and diminish waterfront economic activity
*Reduced future development of golf course
*Incompatibility with natural park heritage of Magnetic Island and adjacent community land use
*Reduction or Loss of Heritage Status of Picnic bay

TRAFFIC
*Picnic bay roads are narrow and in poor condition and trucks turning will constitute a major traffic concern and hazard.

LOCAL ECONOMY:
*The eye-sore of a fully operational waste transfer station will further depress nearby property values and will contribute to the exodus of the already scant local businesses opportunities in the area.
*The waste transfer station will negatively impact on the development of the Picnic Bay foreshore, and will reduce jobs and services into the neighborhood.

Cumulative Impacts:
The Waste Transfer Station will have a profound negative social and environmental impact on the local and wider Magnetic Island community if located at Picnic Bay. Its construction and continual roll-on, roll-off bins will compromise resident’s health, safety and violate the environmental sensitivities of a World Heritage area. It will increase noise pollution and it will destroy the majestic beauty of Picnic Bay. It will negatively impact on the local residents, the weekenders, holidaymakers and nature-lovers and it will reduce the business opportunities in the area, which have deteriorated dramatically after the relocation of the Ferry terminal to Nelly Bay. The construction and full-operation of the facility will disturb current landfill and has the potential to shift the existing underground pollutants and toxic wastes and release them into the sea and threaten fragile marine life in the Bay. This natural watercourse directly flows via Butler Creek into Picnic Bay from the site and degrades values and use*, and is intensified after large rainfalls. On July 11, 2011 Locals have documented in the Magnetic Community News (Vol 22, Issue 11; author Mr John Smeaton) that they have had waste in their properties from the landfill after a heavy rainfall. It is also the unseen pollutants that is an environmental concern. The Townsville City Council has the civil obligation to provide leadership and direction on strategic planning ensuring the health, safety and business opportunities, including tourism, of Picnic Bay residents and to the environment.

WHY COCKLE BAY: It would be far less costly in the long term to place the Waste Transfer Station at Cockle Bay. Cockle Bay is therefore an ideal site as it already has an existing sewerage plant and it will have less social, health and environmental impact compared with Picnic Bay.

Dr. Geoffrey P. Dobson


Letter: Why Cockle Bay is the best location
 
4 comments
 
Rose Gordon
July 28th 2011
Nicely written argument Dr Dobson but everything you describe has been going on at the current site for years! Where has your concerned environmental voice been all these years-on holidays? We are now given the option of a state of the art transfer station which from all indicators will NOT add to any contamination which has already occurred. Why relocate it onto a unique wetland area in Cockle Bay? These precious coastal areas are rapidly disappearing- leave Cockle alone. I wouldn't mind if they moved it to Nelly but I would expect the most up to date technology and controls to be put in place- I know of a sewerage facility that is close to it's use-by date!
 
chasmac
July 28th 2011
I have read Dr Dobson's submission very carefully because it has been thoroughly prepared and thoughtfully presented. There is a section with two paragraphs that succinctly puts at least part of the case as he sees it:

"A visual Eyesore: Dust-laden, unsightly “recycling” activities will take place in open air. Piles of trash/material will accumulate and is located along the roadside. Fences will NOT solve this problem as there is only one roadway entrance to Picnic Bay, with proposed site location on the right hand side coming down the hill.
*The construction and full-operation of the facility will disturb current fill and has the potential to shift the existing underground pollutants and toxic wastes, in addition to adding new ones, into the watercourse which which flows directly into the sea and will threaten the fragile marine life of Picnic Bay."

I am sorry to say that Dr Dobson seems to have confused a number of very important details that have actually been publicly available for some time.
1. The site which is on "the right hand side coming down the hill [into Picnic Bay]....", is the current, operational landfill site. This is NOT where the transfer station is proposed to be located. The proposed location is on the other side of Butler Creek next to the golf course roughly where the current green waste processing site is located.
2. As I understand it, the proposed transfer station will be located inside an enclosed building and will NOT be 'open air'. Any machinery involved (hydraulic compactor, loader/backhoe, truck hook-up) will mainly operate inside this enclosed building.
3. If the transfer station is built like others around Townsville (eg. at Hervey Range Rd, Thuringowa and also at Jensen) there should be very little, if any, runoff at all from the actual work area inside the building.
4. There will be no penetration of the capped and retired landfill site whatsoever by any part of the transfer station. Possibly the newly located access road will pass quite close to the old landfill site.
5. If remediation works on the landfill site and banks of Butler Creek are properly designed, finished, monitored and managed the water quality of the creek, particularly downstream, should improve over time - especially as the recently installed sewerage reticulation in Picnic Bay begins to take effect on the quality of the ground water there. A transfer station properly set up and located on the old green waste site should have no impact on the water quality of Butler Creek.

Dr Dobson's comments about the social, health and environmental impacts of a location at Cockle Bay, including the long term cost aspect, seems to be completely at odds with the most recent study of the various sites conducted by Flanagans for the Council. Without any evidence presented it's hard to know whether the writer has a proper knowledge of the actual location and the various issues that arise there. Perhaps he could attend the public briefing on the weekend or at the very least obtain some of the relevant information which is now publicly available.
 
paul wightman
August 29th 2011
Response to Minca's letter drop:

It was the same independent so called expert that made the same conclusion that Picnic Bay was the better site.
1. economic Picnic Bay site could blow out by more than $ 500000 just putting piles down to hard ground, they need to keep shifting piles as they hit car bodies and other solid structures
2. social, the independent expert at no time did a sound test to see how noise would invade Picnic Bay. The locals in Picnic Bay already know the answer to this.
3. environmental criteria, the waste transfer station and Greenwaste will only take up a small portion of the block and the site that we showed council is not behind the MIWR (sewerage treatment plant). But up towards the golf club on higher ground and will not impede on the wetlands below. Minca's statement about destroying eucalypt woodland is grandstanding scare tactics which is not true. This land is currently zoned industrial, and under our plan will be replanted and a walking track put in similar to the Horseshoe Bay sewerage treatment plant.
At no stage does Minca's flyer address the Greenwaste facility which is the biggest noise polluter in Picnic Bay. Minca's statement of where the station is built will provide the opportunity to recycle material is not correct. The current Greenwaste recycler has tried for years to recycle everything but has been blocked on this site by council.

 
chasmac
August 30th 2011
There is no doubt that green waste processing complicates the transfer station question. I think pw has slightly confused one part of the MINCA flyer - a dot point which reads:
"Regardless of where the Station is built, it will provide the opportunity to recycle material."
As I understand it, where this statement refers to "the Station" it means the Transfer Station, not a green waste processing 'station'. The public meeting at the golf club was told that bulk hard waste deposited inside the transfer station building would be separated (by hand or machine or whatever) so that recyclables (glass, metals, paper, etc) could be placed in the recycling stream.
I share pw's concerns about the locating of the green waste processing (and whatever other resource recovery) on top of the decommissioned landfill site. And not only because of the likely noise and dust - regardless of whatever acoustic barrier might be created. Frankly, if the dump isn't closed soon there will be only a pinhead site left on top of the dome of landfill. This can't be a sustainable arrangement?
However, although the location for green waste processing is a critical question it should not influence the location of the transfer station building because they don't have to be together. One is permanent, set in concrete and needs a pretty immediate answer, the other can be temporary and likely will be, even if it starts on top of the landfill. This is where I part company with pw - and whoever from MIRRA produced a different flyer which I received a few days ago. In essence my problem is the equation which says:
There are three sites proposed - Picnic, Cockle and Nelly. Two of them, Picnic and Nelly are "...deemed totally unsuitable as they are located in established residential areas". Therefore there is only one possible location and that is Cockle Bay.
I am confident that a transfer station would be no more 'industrial' than the top end of Kelly Street, Nelly Bay. There is plenty of space for a small expansion of 'industrial' space in the vicinity of the decommissioned Nelly Bay STP. The access roads/paths around the transfer station building could easily serve other buildings in such an area. The whole could be surrounded by a vegetative screen/buffer zone and be out of sight to houses about 100m away.
Without an attached green waste processing operation, a transfer station can go pretty much anywhere and not be intrusive - if it is screened properly and if the vehicular movements avoid residential areas. In my calculation, if Council wants to move the transfer station from the Picnic Bay site already proposed, it should only go to Nelly Bay - middle of the Island and right near to the barge terminal. Kelly Street wouldn't even notice.


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