Feb 29, 2012

Elevated Mercury Levels at Orica

Members of the Orica Community Participation and Review Committee recently were given an update on both reported elevated mercury levels at the Orica plant and proposed future steps.

I thought it would be of interest to Councillors and our residents for this material to be given wider circulation.

The material given to the Community Participation and Review Committee provides information on the next steps in recommencing operation of the Direct Thermal Desorption (DTD) plant at the Orica Car Park Waste Remediation Project. The elevated mercury levels were detected in from stack samples taken on 14 to 16 December 2011 and reported to the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) on 17 January 2011.

The elevated mercury levels detected were just another in a series of adverse events at Orica plants in New South Wales. None of the adverse events in any way detracts from concerns I have  many times expressed about Orica’s operations.

Following the elevated mercury level readings, Orica was required to undertake an extensive review of its Direct Thermal Desorption plant operating procedures.

This review, we were advised, concluded that the cause was a higher contaminant loading during the Supplementary Proof of Performance Test, resulting in instability during the DTD process.

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has now met with Orica a number of times to review the information from its investigation and the CPRC’s Independent Expert Panel has been provided with relevant reports and test data.

This information will help the EPA to decide when and how the plant can re-start. The CPRC was advised of the next steps at a plant which has what I might describe as a chequered past.

The first step in the process of re-starting the Direct Thermal Desorption plant is to conduct a “hot blow through”. This is a short test in which the plant is operated without treating any contaminated soil.

The test results from the hot blow through will be used to determine whether the maintenance activities conducted in response to the incident were successful in treating any remaining mercury accumulation in the plant.

The Direct Thermal Desorption plant will be shut down following the hot blow through until the test results are received by the EPA. The EPA will then determine the best approach for resuming the safe treatment of contaminated soils in the plant. The EPA is continuing its investigation into the compliance issues associated with the elevated mercury levels.

Perhaps the only bit of positive news from this incident was that supplied by Professor Brian Priestly from Monash University who is part of their independent expert panel for this project.

Professor Priestly advised that he concurred with a statement from the EPA which said that none of the emissions in December represented no likely impact on the health of the nearby community,

This is at least something.

But it does not detract from the long standing and systemic distrust this Council has of Orica operations.

Vale Vilma Wiggins

Some time ago we dedicated a park to commemorate the work in the Council administration by Jos Wiggins, the Council Engineer for a long time. At the dedication, the guest of honour was Vilma Wiggins, the woman who stood beside Jos for many, many years.

Now, regretfully, we mourn the passing of Vilma. Vilma Dawn Groves was born in Masot but lived in many places before Jos Wiggins wooed her and they settled in Mascot. Theirs was a love and a marriage that grew and grew in our City and togther they achieved much for their family - and our City.

As her granddaughter Skye Rahmat said at the funeral service: "The rock who supported us through all the losses in our lives has gone. We remember, and find joy in the memories and influences of someone who we loved greatly, of someone who lived greatly." I too will miss Vilma. May she rest in peace.

Important Notice about Garbage

I have an important reminder for residents about what NOT to put in your domestic waste bin - that is your green wheelie bin.  The list is really common sense and includes:  Asbestos and fibro sheeting, paint and paint related products, empty paint tins, floor sanding saw dust (a common one), pesticides and herbicides, pool chemicals, solvents and household cleaners, motor oils, car batteries, acids and alkalis, gas bottles, fire extinguishes and hazardous waste chemicals.

There have been a few incidents recently where some of these items have found their way into our garbage trucks.  When this occurs it becomes extremely dangerous for our workers.  When crushed these items can explode or spray hazardous fluids.  So please for the safety of all be careful of what you put in your bin.  There are a number of safe ways to dispose of these items and Council is currently preparing a leaflet which will be letterboxed to all residents providing these details.  In the meantime if you have any such items that you wish to get rid of please ring Council on 93663666 for advice on where you can take these items to be disposed of safely. Random checks do occur, and if these items are found in a bin that bin will not be collected and a sticker will be placed on the lid asking the owner to contact council.

Feb 26, 2012

Work begins on L’Estrange Park playground

The beginning of the school year also marked the commencement of work on the City’s fourth district playground at L’Estrange Park.  As the park was popular during the school holidays, we held off beginning the playground work until the schools were back.

The construction fence is now up and the first task will be to remove the old equipment and get ready for the first delivery of landscape soil. Like all major projects, earthmoving is always the first step and once that is done the rest will be underway.  We need a fair bit of fill to totally bury some tree roots and build the mound for the large slide that we’re putting in.

During this month, the pathways, the landscaping, the kids’ cycle track, seats and other furniture and, most importantly, the playground equipment will begin to be installed along with all the landscaping. Apart from the mound slide, there will be a large climbing dome, water-play features (popular in our other playgrounds), 3-D rubber animals and other equipment guaranteed to keep children occupied and happy.

55 Plus Events

Our local community group, 55 Plus (where the name tells the age group of members) organises a lot of events for members – and prospective members – from walks and tours to talks and get togethers – has an interesting event coming up next months that I thought might be of interest.  On Wednesday March 14 the group is off to the Henry Kendall Cottage in Gosford, which is not only the home of the renowned 19th Century Australian poet but also a museum of his life and work. Pick-ups for the bus tour will be 8:15am at Eastgardens and 8:30am at Eastlakes.  There is a charge of $3 to entry to the cottage, which you’ll need to pay when you book.

An Evening @ the Museum

February 29 only comes around every four years but our Museum staff have organised a special event that is a one off event. “Made in Botany”, the current exhibition at the George Hanna Memorial Museum is coming to a close and council has organised a special one-off evening for February 29, beginning at 6:30.  From wool scourers and tanneries to Kellogg’s, the “Made in Botany” exhibition covers the history of manufacturing in our City.  While the exhibition runs through to March 2, the evening talk should not be missed.  You will need to book, which you can do by calling 9366 3888. If you can’t make the evening tour, the exhibition is open Monday and Friday between 12.00pm and 5.00pm, Wednesday 12.00pm to 8.00pm and on Tuesday and Thursday between 9.00am and 2.00pm at Mascot Library, 2 Hatfield Street, Mascot.

Feb 21, 2012

A Low Act

Council recently donated a substantial number of plants to St Michael’s Daceyville to help beautify the entrance way.  Father Jerzy and the St Michael’s congregation were very proud of the finished look, so you can imagine the distress when they came to church this week and found that someone had helped themselves to the lot!!  

I get frustrated when people do it to Council (as has happened on numerous occasions), but I get really angry when they do to it to a church.  It’s a low act.  Council will replace the plants but I am beginning to think that we need to take a tip from the retailers and put tracking devices on all our stock.  If anyone has any information on the missing plants please let me know, after all these people are not only stealing from a Church, they are stealing from our residents.

Feb 20, 2012

City of Botany Bay Community Report

Council's 2011 report to the community is available for download at http://tinyurl.com/7wleh8p 

You can either read it online or download a copy. Residents should have received their copy last week. If extra printed copies are required, please contact me on 9366 3600 or mayor@botanybay.nsw.gov.au.

Feb 19, 2012

Pain Forum

We all have it at times – and none of us likes it.  I’m referring to pain and those who live with pain day to day know life is very difficult indeed. A partnership between the Prince of Wales Hospital Foundation and the Rotary Club of Botany Bay has put together a free information session on treating and dealing with pain.  The session is part of an ongoing information initiative of the Foundation and the Club and, based on those run last year, the information sessions are both informative and useful. 

At this week’s session, pain specialists Dr K E Khor and Dr Chimene Bhar along with Nurse Consultant Grazyna Jastrzab, Psychologist Cate Courtney and Physiotherapist Stephanie Mossman pain is definitely on the agenda – and what you can do about it. There are many ways to treat pain whether it is acute or persistent and the specialists at the session will give advice. 

The February 23 session, which begins at 6.00pm, is held at the Edmund Blacket Function Rooms at Prince of Wales Hospital, with access via Avoca Street.  You’ll need to let the hospital know you’re coming to the session and you can do that by calling Elizabeth on 9382 4263 or www.powhf.org.au or by email to: elizabeth.thomas@sesiahs.health.nsw.gov.au

The information is the first of five the Rotary Club or Botany Bay and the Prince of Wales Hospital Foundation have organised for this year and as the others approach I’ll give everyone details of topics and dates for what are extremely valuable information sessions.

Eastlakes Town Centre

I was intrigued, as many of my neighbours were, to receive a coloured brochure from the developers of the proposed Eastlakes Town Centre Project.  This is a project for the redevelopment of the Eastlakes shopping centre and it is a project Council has some serious reservations about.  Unfortunately, both the former and current state governments have decided in their wisdom that this project will be assessed (and potentially approved) by the Department of Planning and Council can only be an interested bystander.   

What did intrigue me with the brochure were the colour photographs of people relaxing, meeting, eating, enjoying life and wandering around laneways. A closer look showed all the photographs were of locations in Europe, mostly Italy and the life they depict is so far from local reality that it’s almost a joke. 

What this project needs is Council scrutiny not assessment by the State Department of Planning.

The Council has made it clear to the developers that it supports the redevelopment of the Eastlakes Shopping Centre. What the developers want is to make a quid not just from a new Shopping Centre they want to build high rise flats over the top.

I don't know about you, but as a kid who lived in Eastlakes and watched the developers build the flats that currently exist there, I do not want to see more high rise at the expense of  the quality of life of our residents just so developers can make a quid.

If it was not for the "Green Bans" by Jack Mundy and the BLF in the 1970's Eastlakes Reserve would not exist, it would have had flats instead.

Council has for a number of years given guidance to the developers to undertake a Master Plan for the orderly redevelopment of Eastlakes. A Master Plan allows our residents to have input so we make rectify the errors of the past.  Unfortunately it is not about rectification of planning disasters of the past, it is about making a quid. In my view people come first.

Feb 12, 2012

Schools Back … Increased Ranger and Police patrols

The beginning of the 2012 school year means the resumption of our patrols around our local schools to ensure that motorists obey the law, especially speeding.  Around every local school, our rangers will be visible during the morning and afternoon drop-offs and pick-ups, checking parking. While the overwhelming majority of parents and carers follow the rules, there is the odd person who, for whatever reason doesn’t and this puts our children at risk. We’re joined by the local police who keep an eye on speeding in designated school zones.  Remember, in school zones keep to 40kph and park only where you should.  Council makes no apology for issuing tickets if people park illegally. As well, our thoughts go to two special groups of school students – those who are in their first year of school and those in their last. For the kindy kids it is the beginning of a whole new life and for those entering Year 12, we wish you all the best for success in your last year of schooling.

Feb 11, 2012

Rain Rain Go Away

While we love all the rain for our parks and gardens it is playing havoc on two areas of our operations – mowing of nature strips and household waste collections.  The rain makes the nature strips unable to be mowed, and also boosts the rate in which the grass grows.  We’re battling but we are a bit behind.  Rain also impacts on safe working conditions for the refuse collections (not the garbage services) so, again, we might be running a little behind schedule.  It is an inconvenience, and it detracts from normally good-looking streets, but bear with us as we catch up.

Feb 10, 2012

Some Brazilian Fitness

Council’s Youth Workers are always on the look out for new programs to get local youth involved and entertained.  They’ve come up with a new fitness program which will be run in conjunction with Zumba Fitness.  Mothers and daughters are invited to join the Latin-inspired, easy to follow, calorie burning, dance fitness party.  Brazilian fitness kicked off this week at 7.00pm at the Hillsdale Community Centre at 236 Bunnerong Road, Hillsdale.  It will be on each Tuesday between 7.00 and 8.00 pm. Participants will be required to pay a small fee. For further information on how to get fit and lose the calories Brazilian style, contact either Patrick from our Youth Workers on 9366 3889 or Celi on 0410 732 391.

Feb 9, 2012

Lionel Bowen Scholarship

There’s still a little time to get in an application for the 2012 Lionel Bowen Scholarship.  The scholarship is for local students planning to undertake first year tertiary studies or special research in 2012.  The lucky recipient can receive up to $3000 as reimbursement for items such as books, study equipment including desk, computer or an ipod to podcast lectures. It does not cover HECS fees. You can get an application either by calling my office on 9366 3600 or on line at www.botanybay.nsw.gov.au. If you want to make an application then don’t delay!

Feb 4, 2012

A note of warning in Daceyville

Some Daceyville residents have been on to me concerned at about a couple of large dogs roaming around the streets and on Rowland Park at night. What concerns the residents is that, with the schools back, the large dogs may pose a threat to children. We’ve got the rangers increasing their patrols in the area to see if they can track down the dogs – and their owners – in a bid for more responsible pet ownership.  But, unfortunately, the rangers cannot be everywhere at all times and where these dogs will be when let out off leash is not predictable. 

If anyone in the Daceyville area has better information on the dogs and when and where they roam, please call my office on 9366 3600 and let us know.  More than a few local parents will be grateful.  This also serves as a reminder to all dog owners that it is an offence to have your dog off leash in a public place.  So, when walking your dog please consider others.  If you want your dogs to run off leash there is plenty of space in Astrolabe Park and a fenced area in Sir Joseph Banks Park designated to this purpose.  Council is also looking at two other locations which will be notified to residents shortly for their comments.

Feb 3, 2012

Randwick-Botany Little Athletics 40th win on the trot

It may be some sort of sporting record – and more than a few national, state and local teams would love to have it in the win column – but our Little A’s have taken out the 2012 Little Athletics Zone Shield for the 40th consecutive time. The Zone shield is a competition among six little athletics groups from Sydney’s inner zone. Our Randwick-Botany Little Athletics, led by their indomitable President Tony Vecellio, went to the Zone Shield at ES Marks Athletics Field and showed why they are the best – yet again. The local Little A’s blitzed the competition and came out 1,500 points ahead of their nearest rivals. Tony was over the moon on behalf of the Little A’s (and with total justification). With their home at the revamped Hensley Athletics Field, the local Little A’s are growing and this season begins to wind down, Tony and the gang have already got their next season firmly in the minds and, although they won’t say it, maybe another Zone Shield.  40 wins on the trot in sport is perhaps almost unheard of and our congratulations go out to all the competitors from our Little A’s. Next competitions are the Regional Comp and then the State comp – where the local Little A’s are looking for more success.