- Published on Monday, 15 March 2010 05:23
Recently EPA Victoria undertook a dust monitoring program for the purpose of obtaining air quality data for the Brooklyn area. Preliminary results for the first 100 days show excessive levels of PM10 dust on 13 out of 100 days in Brooklyn. PM10 particles are 10 microns and smaller (0.01mm) - a human hair is about 70 microns, fine beach sand is about 90 microns. Particles smaller than 10 microns can make their way into the lungs.
An EPA media release dated February 12, 2010 states “Of most concern is that these levels have been recorded in a primary school. The Department of Health advises that children are more likely to have asthma or acute respiratory diseases which can be aggravated when dust levels are high. High dust levels may also aggravate health issues in the elderly or those with pre-existing respiratory conditions.”
The Department of Health advised people to take their medication, avoid outdoor exercise or physical activity during dusty conditions and seek medical advice should they have any health concerns.”
Why is only Brooklyn being monitored and assessed we might all ask. The theory according to the EPA is the predominate wind direction contributing to the problem is from the North West the direction of the Brooklyn Industrial Estate. The EPA’s theory fails to take into account the numerous days cool changes come from southerly breezes in summer and the constant southerly experienced during the winter months. These winds also come from the direction of the Brooklyn Industrial Estate with excessive dust particles in the air and are deposited in our area Sunshine.
Why has Sunshine been left out of the monitoring program? Sunshine residents already complain about odour smells emanating from businesses in the Brooklyn Industrial Estate. The Brooklyn area accommodates a range of industries that create odour such as green waste recycling, meat works, rendering plants and chemical treatment facilities. If the southerly breezes are bringing odours from this area it only stands to reason they are bringing PM10 dust too. But Sunshine has been left out of the monitoring program and it is now up to the residents to demand Sunshine is included.
The Brooklyn Community Reference Group (BCRG) was formed in 2008 in conjunction with the EPA, local industry, residents and Maribyrnong, Hobson’s Bay and Brimbank Councils. SunRRA is a member of this group. Meeting notes from BCRG gives some indication of the possible reasons why Sunshine has been neglected yet again.
BCRG meeting notes for December 9, 2009 include comments to the effect “… the need for the meeting had arisen due to concerns expressed by a number of community members attending BCRG that the administration of Brimbank was not giving adequate priority to community needs.” Other points raised regarded Brimbank Council’s lack of consultation in regard to planning permits and applications for the area and an accusation that advertising of the Melbourne Wholesale Fish Markets proposal was misleading and/or deceptive. Monitoring and policing of permit conditions was considered to be grossly inadequate, existing use rights was questioned, failing to work with the community was cited and the example given that Brimbank Council requires residents to travel to Keilor and pay $84.00 for copies of applications was neither appropriate nor conducive to good communication and information flow regarding potential impacts.
An all too familiar scenario that Sunshine and Brimbank residents have had to put up with for far too many years. I’m sure you’re not surprised by Brimbank Council CEO, Nick Foa’s excuses “the rebuilding of Brimbank’s financial position since 2001; recognition that staffing levels are still not meeting needs in all areas.”
Another insight comes from a BCRG meeting held January 28, 2010. Meeting notes show Peter Lewinsky, one of three new Administrators of Brimbank Council, asked why BCC in particular was a focus for BCRG at this time. The response speaks for itself, “…it was due to the major air quality issues emanating from the Brooklyn Industrial Estate, which is within BCC municipal boundaries. In addition, BCC is the only municipality that is not represented by a senior staff and/or Councillors at BCRG meetings.” There you have it Brimbank Council has done nothing for years and didn’t even bother attending BCRG meetings.
Map showing the placement of dust monitoring.
Brooklyn Industrial Estate, Huntsman Chemicals site and Cleanaway waste tip - outlined in red, pins represent current Brooklyn/Yarraville monitoring stations, Sunshine suburbs outlined in white, not being monitored for dust and air quality.
It could be assumed then the reason Sunshine is not represented in the air quality monitoring program is because of the lack of action, involvement and any commitment from our Brimbank Council. This must change immediately. Brimbank Council should support SunRRA in our request to the EPA for a dust monitoring program similar to the Brooklyn program.
Brimbank Council is currently debating whether to implement a special charge scheme to finance improvement works at the Brooklyn Industrial Estate similar to the North Sunshine Industrial Estate Scheme but the statutory process is likely to take 3 years. The other option being considered is to apply to the State Government for special funding as a ‘whole-of-government’ response, which would see construction of sealed roads for the Brooklyn Industrial Estate commence in the next 12 months.
In the first instance SunRRA would like to see air quality monitoring in Sunshine for dust and odour on a continuing basis, a dust monitoring program conducted similar to the Brooklyn program, increased policing of offending industries within the Brooklyn Industrial Estate and increased reporting back to Sunshine residents on these issues.
Residents can contribute to improving the air quality in Sunshine by reporting to the EPA “every time” an unpleasant odour from a nearby industry is detected and write to Brimbank Council CEO, Nick Foa, EPA Victoria and your local state member requesting a Sunshine Dust Monitoring Program.
The health and wellbeing of our families and neighbours is more important than any industry in the surrounding area and we must demand action is taken to protect our suburbs resident’s health.
For more reading on the dust issue please click on the links below.
Health Impacts of Dust
Dust Monitoring Bulletin 09
Dust Management by Industry
BCC-BCRG meeting Jan2010
BCRG meeting 100210
BCRG meeting 091209
BCRG meeting 181109
BCRG meeting 160909
BCRG meeting 150709
BCRG action 140909
BCRG Dust Questions Feb 2010
BCC planning definitions
BCC Planning Agenda. 020310