Showing posts with label Grafton. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Grafton. Show all posts

Thursday, 19 November 2020

Conga line of #COVIDIOTS strikes again?


It is hard to believe that “Doris” and the conspiracy theory littered website Our Greater Destiny exists.

However sadly, it is not quite as hard to believe that a serving NSW police officer from Grafton would be silly enough to send a reportedly 1 am 7-page email, peppered with QAnon inspired nonsense about globalist agendas and dictatorships, which seeks to blame police violence on COVID-19 public health orders rather than the inherently aggressive nature of police culture.

The emailed letter the police officer signed appeared to have been an open letter written for him by by someone at Advocate Me.

Post from "Doris" website dated 5 November 2020:


Extract from NSW Police Senior Constable Alex Cooney’s letter to Commissioner Mick Fuller.

Many of us believe that we are removing our own rights and freedoms by enforcing these rules upon the community, including our family and friends. And the community are confounded by the intensified police enforcement around peaceful freedom protests and how inconsistent this was when compared with the Black Lives Matter protests.

This contradiction is further destroying public confidence.

We are reaching out to all our fellow police officers across the country, to write a similar letter to their respective police commissioners, or sign our form here to show your support for this stance, which we have called Cops for Covid Truth.

With trust in our police force now seriously eroded, we ask you to consider now challenging the necessity of the ongoing restrictions to restore community trust, by being an integral part of returning our State and Country back to normality.


Alexander Cooney

Continue at

COVID truth’ letter to NSW Police Commissioner sparks internal investigation

The six-page letter, which claimed many members of the force were “fed up with the approach to enforce oppressive rules placed upon the population in the name of COVID-19 and the looming mandatory vaccinations”, was attributed to a police officer in the Coffs-Clarence Police District.

It questioned the severity of COVID-19, the testing regime, and the move towards ensuring the Australians were vaccinated against the coronavirus once a vaccine was available.

NSW Police confirmed they were aware of the matter, which was now the subject of an internal investigation. Continue at

Aussie Cops For Covid Truth by Michael Smith

Friday, 28 August 2020

Grafton still chasing after its lost Regional City classification

Grafton, NSW

The 2016 national census recorded the population of Grafton in the Clarence Valley as 10,385 people living in 4,696 dwellings, with an average household size of 2.27

Last year it was optimistically estimated that the population had grown to 10,629 people - an increase of 224 people in the last 3 years - though how many of these are Pacific Highway road workers who will soon move on to other areas is not known.

The fact of the matter is that Grafton's population in the 28 years between the 1991 and 2016 census only grew by est. 125 people. 

Grafton, which was made a city over 135 years ago, has been in decline now for at least the last 20 years. Its regional city status was removed by the Baird Coalition Government in 2016 when it was reclassified as a strategic centre.

It is unlikely to have city status reinstated while the local population continues to age and, in some years more people are leaving or dying than are coming into Grafton as permanent residents.

Clarence Valley Council continues to hope and throw money at an intractable problem........

The Daily Examiner, 21 August 2020:

Clarence Valley Council’s local strategic planning statement will form the basis of council’s direction with regard to their plans over the coming years.

It is a large document that has received submissions over the past months from community groups, government organisations and ratepayers having their say about how it should be approached.

As the draft of the plan came before this week’s Environment, Planning and Community committee, Mayor Jim Simmons took the opportunity to question the balance of where the priorities lie.

Mr Simmons said he supported the focus on returning Grafton to regional city status, and the emphasis on the strategic importance of Grafton, the surrounding infrastructure and industry.

However, he was concerned the draft was too Grafton-centric. “When I read this document, the first thing that hit my head … is the emphasis placed on expenditure in Grafton and the surrounding areas,” Cr Simmons said.

I would like the rest of the information in the report to also hit me in the face, and get a little bit excited over what it means for areas outside Grafton.

I’d like to see the same thing hitting me in the face for the Lower Clarence — in fact the whole Clarence Valley.” It is a sentiment reflected in comments made on the draft planning statement. The report to council notes there were a number of well-articulated concerns raised about the focus placed on Grafton and the apparent emphasis, and therefore council spending, in and around Grafton.

This included requests for no more spending on a number of areas, including the airport, a possible freight hub, efforts to grow the population and promoting Grafton as a Regional City,” it states.

Some submissions stated that Grafton is not an attractor for residents of the Lower Clarence, who are more likely to use Ballina and Lismore for shopping, medical, air travel and other needs.” The report states despite these submissions, it was recommended council continue to support the promotion of Grafton as a Regional City, to provide for the community and grow the economy and provide job prospects and social opportunities.....

Sunday, 29 March 2020

COVID-19 Pandemic 2020: across the Clarence Valley major retailers have shut up shop

Across the Clarence Valley major retailers have shut up shop.

The Daily Examiner, 26 March 2020:

Mosaic Brands, which owns Rivers, Millers, Noni B, Autograph, Crossroads and Rockmans, among others, announced it would be closing its stores as of yesterday evening and stood down 6800 staff.

When The Daily Examiner contacted one local retailer affected by the announcement, staff had not yet been told they would be stood down.

The move will have significant ramifications for the Clarence, with at least eight stores being affected, seven of which are situated in Grafton Shoppingworld.

Carol Durrant, assistant manager at Rockmans on Prince St, said while the impact could be “disastrous” for the local economy in the long term, it was not unexpected.

She said there had been a significant decline in the number of shoppers during the past week.

“Well, we knew it had to come as both my daughters are in retail in Queensland and they had been shut for the last week – it had to come,” she said.

Ms Durrant said the downturn in shoppers was a sign the community understood the new social distancing measures.

“I think people are realising it is non-essential and we haven’t seen a soul all day,” Ms Durrant said.

“They are really getting the message.” For anyone who ventured into Grafton Shoppingworld it was impossible not to notice the impact the pandemic was having at a local level.

The chairs have been removed from the food court with the recently announced ban on indoor eateries and there were few people out shopping.

Mosaic Brands said in their announcement the measures were temporary. “All team members affected by the store closures will be stood down with access to leave entitlements while the group reviews government support schemes that may be available to them,” they stated.

“The group has recently seen a significant drop in store traffic and revenue, a direct result of the community’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak and the government’s social distancing recommendations.” A Grafton Shoppingworld spokesperson said the announcement would affect seven stores in the centre but noted the centre would remain fully open.

“The centre is constantly liaising with all relevant authorities and will follow all directives in regard to its operation to ensure a safe environment for all,” the spokesperson said.....

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Pubs are closing all over the Clarence Valley as pandemic containment measures come into effect

Grafton Hotel

The Daily Examiner, 24 March 2020:

Fitzroy Street was filled with the sweet sounds of bagpipes at noon yesterday as Grafton Hotel closed its doors indefinitely. 

Steve Smith received a call from his wife late last night following Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s announcement that several businesses, including licensed pubs and clubs, would close in a bid to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. 

Grafton Hotel regular and piper Peter Lougher marked the occasion with a rendition of Auld Lang Syne on Fitzroy St at noon, surrounded by staff and regular patrons. 

Mr Smith said the ­shutdown, which could be in place for as long as six months but will be reviewed monthly, was a “kick in the guts” for many people who would no doubt feel the long term impacts of the ­closure...

Thursday, 12 December 2019

Grafton civil rights law firm has a win in the High Court of Australia which should stop NSW Police from unlawfully arresting people for the sole purpose of questioning them when there was no intention at the time of arrest to bring them before a magistrate

The Grafton civil rights law firm of Foott Law & Co. had a win in the High Court of Australia on 4 December 2019 in the matter of a 2013 wronfgul arrest. 

In this lengthy progession through the lower courts to the High Court solicitor Joe Fahey was assisted by Dominic Toomey SC, Dallas Morgan and Dean Woodbury.

The High Court dismissed the appeal in State of New South Wales v Robinson and ruled concerning the power of a police officer to arrest a person, without a warrant, under s 99 of the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002 (NSW) ("the Act") when, at the time of the arrest, the officer had not formed the intention to charge the arrested person with an offence. A majority of the High Court held that s 99 of the Act does not confer a power to arrest a person in such circumstances.....

The High Court unanimously held that in New South Wales, at common law, an arrest can only be for the purpose of taking the arrested person before a magistrate (or other authorised officer) to be dealt with according to law to answer a charge for an offence ("the single criterion"). Nothing in the Act displaced that single criterion. An arrest under s 99 can only be for the purpose, as soon as is reasonably practicable, of taking the arrested person before a magistrate (or other authorised officer) to be dealt with according to law to answer a charge for an offence. A majority of the High Court held that it followed that the constable did not have the power to arrest Mr Robinson pursuant to s 99 when, at the time of the arrest, the constable had not formed the intention to charge him. The arrest was unlawful.

Sunday, 6 October 2019

Grafton experienced more hot days in past 30 years

Grafton's average monthly rainfall 1959 to 2018:

Grafton's average water balance after the evaporation rate is accounted for:

Graphs from

It should be noted that longterm averages are a crude measurement tool and do not always reflect conditions experienced in specific years.

Friday, 4 October 2019

The Ugly Face of Climate Change Denialism on NSW North Coast: "your world's future is in the hands of God, not in the predictions of a little girl and false prophets"

Coffs Harbour Christian Community School, newsletter, 26 September 2019, p.1:

The Daily Examiner, 3 October 2019, p.1:

The Dean of Grafton’s Christ Church Cathedral has spoken out against a Coffs Harbour school principal who used a school newsletter to slam students for their recent climate strike.
In a column released last Thursday, Coffs Harbour Christian Community School principal Rodney Lynn dismissed the climate change protest as “doomsday waffle talk” and took aim at the face of the global climate strike, Swedish 16-year-old Greta Thunberg.
In response, Christ Church Cathedral’s Very Reverend Gregory Jenks said the piece was typical of the agenda of conservative right-wing Christians, and said it was inappropriate commentary from someone involved in the education system.....
Rev Jenks said he believed the views of Mr Lynn were not good for the planet and not good for children.
“I think it betrays a stunning ignorance of thinking on climate science, and (Mr Lynn) is not in the same league to be up against thousands of climate scientists,” Rev Jenks said.....
Rev Jenks, who is an adjunct senior lecturer in the School of Theology at Charles Sturt University, said Mr Lynn’s use of scripture was “incredibly naive and fundamentalist”.
“What’s sad is this isn’t a personal agenda, this is typical of the agenda of conservative right-wing Christians articulating a ultra-conservative expression of Christianity and it’s nasty,” he said.
ABC News, 1 October 2019:
Trevor Crawford has two children at the school and said he was "absolutely disgusted" when he read the column in the school newsletter.

He said the column was "over the top", especially Mr Lynn's indirect comments about Ms Thunberg.

"To turn around and use her condition of Asperger's as a mental problem and that must be a reason why she shouldn't be believed, it's wrong," he said.

An estimated 6 million marchers participated in the global climate strikes, led by Ms Thunberg, on September 20 and 27 this year.

Liisa Rusanen from the Coffs Coast Climate Action Group also criticised Mr Lynn, saying "everything Greta Thunberg says is thoroughly backed by science".

"I'm surprised that a school principal doesn't recognise that.".....

The newsletter was published a day after Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned against causing children "needless anxiety" about climate change.

In 2004, Mr Lynn apologised after distributing leaflets describing state schools as "seed plots of future immorality, infidelity and lawlessness".

The school's chairman declined to comment, and Mr Lynn has been contacted for comment.

Daily Mail, headline, 1 October 2019:

White, middle-aged Christian private school principal slams climate campaigner Greta Thunberg, 16, as a 'little girl with mental problems' - and urges students not to believe her 'doomsday waffle talk'


Coffs Harbour City Council holds its next ordinary monthly meeting on 10 October 2019. Media reports this week suggest that councillors may be considering declaring a climate emergency, thereby joining 55 other Australian local governments who have declared to date. These include Clarence Valley, Lismore, Byron Bay and Tweed councils in the Norther Rivers region.

Students and supporters in the Coffs Habour area participated in the 20 September 2019 global School Strike 4 Climate. Coffs Harbour students also participated in two other school strike protests in 2018 & early 2019.

Friday, 6 September 2019

NSW Law Enforcement Conduct Commission will investigate complaints concerning the behaviour of officers belonging to an elite police unit in Grafton

The Daily Examiner, 3 September 2019, p.3: 

The NSW Law Enforcement Conduct Commission will investigate complaints into the behaviour of officers belonging to an elite police unit in Grafton in May. 

Grafton solicitor Greg Coombes has lodged complaints with the LECC, alleging officers from Strike Force Raptor targeted him over a two-day period when he was due to defend a member of an outlaw motorcycle gang on an animal cruelty charge. 

The State Crime Command’s Gangs Squad formed Strike Force Raptor in 2009 to tackle outlaw motorcycle gangs and any associated criminal enterprises. 

Mr Coombes said the LECC had two courses of action open to it. 

“They can direct the police to investigate the complaint, or they can run their own investigation,” he said. 

“In my case they’ve decided to take the harder option and conduct the investigation themselves.” 

Mr Coombes said he understood the LECC could recommend anything from exoneration to sacking following an investigation. 

“I’m certainly glad they’re taking this seriously,” he said. 

“It’s one thing to hassle bikies, but it’s another thing entirely to actively interfere with the court process.....


The Law Enforcement Conduct Commission is an independent statutory body. Its principal functions are to detect, investigate and expose serious misconduct and serious maladministration within the NSW Police Force and the NSW Crime Commission. The Commission is separate from and completely independent of the NSW Police Force and NSW Crime Commission.

Past investigations can be found at

Friday, 22 March 2019

Police hunt for information in Lawrence and Sandy Beach about alleged perpetrator of NZ terrorist attack

The New Daily, 18 March 2019:

Family members of the Australian man charged with murdering Muslim worshippers at two mosques in New Zealand are devastated one of their own could be involved in a massacre.

Brenton Tarrant’s grandmother, Marie Fitzgerald, said the family was gobsmacked he’d been charged over Friday’s shooting attacks on mosques in Christchurch.

“It’s just so much of everything to take in that somebody in our family would do anything like this,” the 81-year-old woman told Nine News in the NSW city of Grafton on Sunday.

“The media is saying he has planned it for a long time so he is obviously not of sound mind.”

Tarrant went to Europe after his father died of cancer in 2010 and came back a different man, Mrs Fitzgerald said.

“It’s only since he travelled overseas I think, that that boy has changed completely to the boy we knew,” she said.

His uncle Terry Fitzgerald apologised on behalf of the family for his nephew’s alleged murderous act.

“We are so sorry for the families over there, for the dead and the injured,” Terry Fitzgerald said.

“What he has done is just not right.”

Tarrant spent most of his time on computer games during his high school days, rather than chasing girls, his grandmother added.

The family had dinner with Tarrant in Grafton a year ago for his sister’s birthday.

His sister and mother have been put under police protection after Friday’s attack, which has left 50 dead and others in a critical condition on hospital.

Meanwhile, counter-terrorism police raided two homes on the NSW mid-north coast on Monday as part of investigations into the shootings.

Officers from the NSW Joint Counter Terrorism Team searched a property in Sandy Beach, near Coffs Harbour, about 8.30am on Monday, before storming a second house at Lawrence, near Maclean.

“The primary aim of the activity is to formally obtain material that may assist New Zealand Police in their ongoing investigation,” the Australian Federal Police and NSW Police said in a joint statement.

“The community can be assured that there is no information to suggest a current or impending threat related to this search warrants.”

Tarrant was not on any watchlist in Australia or New Zealand, despite online profiles linked to him containing white supremacist material.

The 28-year-old posted a 74-page document online before the attack. A 17-minute video of the shootings was also live-streamed.

The JCTT is made up of officers from the AFP, NSW Police, as well as ASIO and the NSW Crime Commission.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Well hoorah, NBN Co is to roll out its inbuilt obsolescence across Yamba commencing in June 2018

It has been reported in local media that NBN Co will be commencing the Yamba rollout of its allegedly high speed broadband in June 2018, with Maclean and Grafton rollouts to commence in January 2019.

This news is quite frankly underwhelming.

Whatever information NBN Co was giving out obviously didn’t include the type of connection that was on offer, as this important point was not mentioned by journalists and there is contradictory information on the company's website.

These three urban areas in the Clarence Valley are yet to hear if households and businesses are being offered fibre-to-the-curb, fibre-to-the-node or fixed wireless.

Because it is certain that the best option fibre-to-the-premises isn’t on offer to regional second cousins of the big metropolitan areas.

Personally I will carefully refuse to look at any construction works taking place in Yamba come June, July and August.

The sight of all those water-filled trenches will be too depressing.

Who starts extensive in-ground construction in winter at the low-lying, high water table mouth of a floodplain, I ask you?

* Image from Hakuri Sad Party

Friday, 19 May 2017

Clarence Valley NSW: a timely reminder as widespread rain again hits the Australian east coast

Australian Bureau of Meteorology probability forecast for 19 May 2017 as of 18 May here.

The Daily Examiner, 8 May 2017, p.3:
THE flood protection around Grafton is not as robust as many people believe warns a local emergency management specialist.
The Clarence Valley Council’s emergency management officer Kieran McAndrew said up-to-date modelling showed Grafton levees capable of withstanding a one in 25-year flood.
“Many people are under a misunderstanding the levees provide one in 100-year protection,” he said.
“They don’t. They were designed to provide that level of protection, but better modelling in the 50 years since they were constructed shows they only ever provided on one in 25-year protection…..
Mr McAndrew said recent major flooding in the Tweed and Richmond and moderate flooding in the Clarence had revealed the lack of understanding of flood protection in and around Grafton. He said there was a danger of complacency in the community……
“If there was a prolonged overtopping event in Grafton it would be much more serious than Lismore because in Lismore there are hills people can reach from the CBD. We don’t have that luxury in Grafton. And because of the volume of water in the Clarence, flood heights fall much more slowly. It means the city would be inundated for much longer.”
He said the Clarence Valley Council had applied to the NSW Government for a grant for a project to determine the floor heights of all properties in flood-prone areas around Grafton. The data would help residents understand the potential impact of a levee overtopping on their property.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Mark Your Calendar: 40th Grafton Truck Show on 10 June 2017

Clarence Valley Council, media release, 11 January 2017:

Big rigs for big 40th show in 2017

The Grafton Truck Drivers Social Club has been going strong since 1977 and therefore this year will be the 40th Grafton Truck Show.

Club president Adrienne Dentler said, "the club was very happy to receive funding from Clarence Valley Council's Community Initiatives Program at the end of 2016."

"The funds will be used to help pay for the annual parade at the Grafton Truck Show on June 10, 2017 and this year will be a big one. The day will include the usual free kids activities and judging with some exciting changes this year including entertainment by country music legend, Adam Eckersley", Adrienne said.

For information about the Grafton Truck Drivers Social Club, please contact Adrienne Dentler via email or phone 0407 815 026.

Any not-for-profit organisations or individuals wanting more information on funding opportunities through the Community Initiatives Program are welcome to contact the Community Projects Officer by email or phone 6642 0957.

The next funding round opens on February 13, 2017 for projects/initiatives from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018.

Release ends.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Community anger over South Grafton asbestos contamination not allayed by public meeting

On Thursday 1 December 2016 Clarence Valley Council held a public meeting on the subject of its asbestos removal strategy during site remediation prior to re-development of the site as a 'super depot'.
Asbestos removal will reportedly add an est. $2.5 million to the re-development $13.3 million cost. 
The Daily Examiner, 5 December 2016, Clarence Valley Council depot site plan
The Daily Examiner, letter to the editor, 5 December 2016, p.12:

Inquiry needed

Last night I attended a meeting at the Clarence Valley Council chambers, where the public was invited to be updated about the asbestos that has been uncovered at the site of the new council depot in Tyson St.

The overwhelming emotion at the meeting was one of anger, as council's director of works attempted to explain away what many see as criminal culpability.

Last year, council management was warned by a former employee that over a long period of time broken asbestos material had been buried at the site. However, rather than properly address the issue, council opted to deny there was any problem, accusing those who spoke up on the matter of being trouble-makers, scaremongers and liars.

In an attempt to quell rising concern, council instructed a firm of specialists to undertake investigations at the site. However, those instructions were to test samples from stockpiles, omitting any request to search for buried material.

Of course nothing was found, which allowed council to release a media statement which your newspaper reported (March 8), under the banner headline "Council depot site clear of asbestos".

That story contained the unequivocal statement that: "Further testing of the site has reinforced earlier findings saying it poses no risk from asbestos."

Ultimately, of course, some two weeks after excavation work had commenced, asbestos was uncovered, and during those two weeks dust was observed rising from the works, while high school students carried on activities as usual just across the fence. Nearby residents also reported the dust settling on their homes and yards.

The general public learned of the asbestos discovery with the release of papers for council's November meeting, where we read the extraordinary admission that, "A quantity of asbestos containing material was always expected to be encountered on-site" - finally acknowledging that they knew it was there all the time.

The acknowledgement that they deliberately misled the public, potentially exposing residents and many hundreds of students to deadly asbestos is, in my opinion, criminal.

After discovering asbestos at the site, workers began sieving and stockpiling what the EPA later confirmed is contaminated material. The fact that the EPA didn't inspect the site until almost two weeks after the asbestos was uncovered should also be investigated.

During those two weeks, there was no public statement made, no warning signs were erected, and contrary to assurances by council that nearby property owners and the high school had been told, many residents claimed they had received no such advice.

An assurance at the meeting that air quality is now being monitored, and that levels of whatever is floating around in the air are within guidelines, is hardly comforting, and there was no explanation of what particulate matter is being inhaled by those unfortunate enough to live or study in close proximity to the works.

One thing is certain, that anger will remain until digging up more polluted material is halted, the contaminated material is safely removed as required under the law, and a full inquiry held into how this whole shameful debacle was ever allowed to occur.

John Edwards

The Daily Examiner, 5 December 2016:

WORK on the Clarence Valley Council's $13 million super depot should stop immediately following the discovery of about 900kg of bonded asbestos on the site, say South Grafton residents.

At a public meeting on Thursday, called to discuss the issue, South Grafton resident Mark Butler said work should cease until further extensive testing on the site was done.

Mr Butler, who can see the depot 500m from his house in Moorehead Dr, said there needed to be deep core drilling of the entire site to discover the amount of asbestos that had been dumped on the site.

He described the initial testing as flawed because it was only done on selected parts of the site.

"Basically the council was saying drill here, drill there and, when they didn't find anything, they went ahead with it," Mr Butler said.

"But anecdotally lots of people knew there had been asbestos dumped at the site for more than 40 years.

"And now they've been proven right."

Mr Butler said the council should consider closing the site and completely sealing it, if it turned out there was more asbestos there than had been uncovered.

"Basically (the) council does not know what's there and, until they do, they should stop work and do more testing to find out.

"There's always been problems with the way the council pushed this depot through, but we've got to this point.

"Now they have to make sure what they do from now on does not create a medical emergency."

Mr Butler was critical of the way the council ran the public meeting, but said it did give residents a chance to have their say.

"The feeling I got was the council was trying to control it and tried to shut down any difficult questions," Mr Butler said.

Clarence Valley Mayor Jim Simmons was at the meeting and shared the concerns of residents, especially the worries about the proximity to South Grafton High School.

"At least we should look at stopping work until the start of the school holidays," Cr Simmons said.

The mayor was also surprised to learn the contractors, Hutchinsons Builders, had not installed air monitoring stations beyond the boundaries of the site on the corner of Rushforth Rd and Tyson St.

"I don't understand why they haven't done that," he said.

However, Cr Simmons was confident the contractors had the expertise to deal with the find.

Cr Simmons said the absence of the Environmental Protection Agency from the meeting had concerned him.

"I understand they had their reasons ... but I plan to get in contact with them," he said.

He was also surprised spokespeople from other government agencies, like WorkSafe, did not have more input at the meeting.

The mayor said the council owned the site and was obliged to remediate it.

"We would have had to fix it up whether or not there was a depot going on it," he said.

"There was a lot of emotion at that meeting, perhaps rightly so.

"Council needs to address their concerns about the asbestos on the site and also the dust which is blowing onto the properties."


WorkCover NSW, Fact Sheet, Bonded Asbestos:


When asbestos fibres are bonded to another material, such as a cement or resin binder, it is known as bonded asbestos. It cannot be crumbled, pulverised or reduced to a powder by hand pressure when dry. Common uses in buildings include: flat (fibro), corrugated or compressed asbestos-cement (AC) sheeting; water, drainage and flue pipes and floor tiles.

If fire, hail, or illegal water blasting damages bonded asbestos, it may become friable asbestos material. A WorkCover licensed friable asbestos removalist must always carry out the removal of friable asbestos. They must also obtain a site-specific permit from WorkCover to carry out this type of work.

A WorkCover asbestos licence is required to remove 10 square metres or more of bonded asbestos (the size of a small bathroom). The reduction will result in more situations where a licence is required to remove bonded asbestos in NSW. The requirements for friable asbestos are unchanged….

A licence holder with a bonded asbestos removal licence can remove any amount of bonded asbestos provided they notify WorkCover at least seven days before commencing work. Bonded asbestos licence holders are not allowed to remove, repair or disturb any amount of friable asbestos.

Clarence Valley Independent, 9 November 2016:

The map provided to John Edwards, which purports to be a representation of a map given to Clarence Valley Council (CVC) by a former employee, who raised concerns that broken asbestos pipes were dumped within the top red circle and in other areas (not marked) at the site of the new CVC depot at South Grafton. Image: Contributed.

Clarence Valley Council (CVC) has released a map that marks where asbestos was allegedly buried at the site of the new ‘super’ depot under construction at Tyson Street, South Grafton.

The Clarence Environment Centre’s John Edwards was given the map after an appeal against CVC’s rejection of his formal GIPA (Government Information (Public Access)).

A former employee alerted the council, last year, regarding his concerns that fill placed at the site following the decommissioning of the sewerage treatment plant (STP) may have included broken asbestos pipes.

The man told the Independent that he had given the original map to council; and his main concern was the STP’s former sludge lagoon, which is marked on the map given to Mr Edwards.

The former employee said the lagoon was filled over an 18-month to two-year period in the late 1980s or early 1990s.

He said many truckloads of fill, which may have included broken concrete asbestos pipes, building waste and other rubble, were put into the hole, which was then covered with “two to three foot of top soil”…..

Looking at the various public documents – the site’s remediation action plan and supplementary soil investigations prepared by consultants WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff – it’s not clear where or how deep test holes/pits were dug.

A letter and map advising of supplementary soil investigations does not appear to concur with an email (obtained via Mr Edward’s GIPA) from the council’s water cycle manager, Greg Mashiah, to WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff.

Mr Mashiah’s email requests that “four additional test pits to be sampled; 2 in each circle”, which are marked in red with a cross on the supplied map – the one beneath the ‘former sludge pond’ was concerned with possible buried jars of mercury…..

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

SOUTH GRAFTON ASBESTOS REMOVAL STRATEGY: Clarence Valley Council holding public meeting 5.30pm 1 December 2016 at Grafton council chambers

Any Clarence Valley resident concerned about the amount of asbestos and contaminated landfill found on the old council depot site at South Grafton now being redeveloped by Clarence Valley Council should note this date in their diaries as this is likely the only chance the community will have to sort through the claims and counter claims that have circulated about this site for years.

Clarence Valley Council, media release, 16 November 2016:

Public meeting on depot development

In order to keep members of the public fully informed about the development of a new works depot in South Grafton and how it is dealing with contaminants found there, the Clarence Valley Council will hold a public meeting in Grafton on December 1.

The council’s works and civil director, Troy Anderson, said the organisation was keen to allay any concerns the community might have about how asbestos and other contaminants found at the site were being handled.

“It’s fair to say we have found more there than any of our independent pre-work reports indicated,” he said.

“But now it has been uncovered, we will deal with it and that will be done according to all relevant safety guidelines.

“During excavation of the site about 900kg of bonded asbestos has been found.

“It is a substantial amount, but to put it into perspective that is about 0.015% of the material on site and will all be dealt with in a safe and controlled manner.

“Our contractors have installed air monitoring stations around the boundary of the site, some site staff carry individual air monitoring devices, there has been increased watering and, as a precautionary measure, stockpiles on site have been treated with a polymer spray to provide an increased level of safety.

“The contractors have also kept the neighbouring South Grafton High School and residents informed of developments.”

Mr Anderson said it would add to the cost of the depot project, but it should be remembered the rehabilitation work would be required regardless of whether a depot was going to be built.

“We have to fully decommission that sewer treatment plant and that involves cleaning up the site,” he said.

“This is just something we have to do.”

The meeting will be held in the Grafton chambers of the council from 5.30pm on December 1. Representatives of the contractors and government agencies will also attend.

Release ends.


Clarence Valley Independent, 16 November 2016:

December 2015: John Hagger, convenor of Facebook community discussion group, The Clarence Forum, writes to Clarence Valley Council (CVC), advising that a former CVC employee had told him that fill and rubbish, including asbestos cement pipes, had been dumped at the former sewerage treatment plant (STP); Mr Hagger asked CVC for a meeting “to outline and describe the nature of Council’s dumping and assist Council with the actual locations” of the material.
CVC’s works and civil director Troy Anderson responds and notes that the former employee “was heavily involved in the contaminated land surveys…
“… I am expecting that [his] advice … will be in line with … existing information and data…”

January 2016: ABC North Coast and the Independent report on alleged asbestos at the site. Safework NSW inspects the site and advised it is “working with CVC to develop safe systems of work for the remediation”.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advised that “CVC is the appropriate regulatory authority and is responsible for any asbestos issues on the site”.
CVC’s general manager, Scott Greensill, advised that “all necessary actions in regards to possible asbestos … are being managed in the appropriate and responsible manner.
“…The ongoing raising of this issue is considered to be nothing more that irresponsible scaremongering.”
CVC declined to answer the Independent’s list of questions.

February 2016: CVC issues a media release titled, Warning of misleading claims from petitioners, which alleged that someone had been petitioning nearby residents. Scott Greensill said that “some of the reports [about the petitioner] we have had are disturbing.
“One resident told us the petitioner … made a number of false claims…
“She said he told her the council was going to dump asbestos waste near the [adjacent] South Grafton High School … that is a completely irresponsible claim.”
At the February council meeting, Cr Karen Toms asked the general manager if the remediation budget was adequate, given the alleged asbestos.
Responding, Mr Greensill said that “there is no identified asbestos on the site”.
“Now, if it turns up … we’ve said on multiple occasions that we will manage it…”

March 2016: CVC issues a media release stating that the site “poses no asbestos risk”, following further testing of the site, and that a new report “backs up findings of a report prepared in 2013”. The release states that “an asbestos pipe was identified at the southwest portion of the site” and that “if a significant amount of suspected bonded asbestos is encountered all works must cease and the appropriate additional controls implemented.”

March 2016: Greens MP David Shoebridge lodged questions in the NSW Parliament, regarding the alleged “illegal dumping of asbestos”, asking: “What actions is the Minister taking to ensure that Clarence Valley Council is taking appropriate steps to inform the community, honestly and transparently.”
His questions were answered in June and the Minister assured him that everything was in order and that CVC was working with Safework NSW and the EPA.

June 2016: The general manager writes to John Hagger, telling him that he “did not intend to waste any more of [CVC’s] time and resources addressing allegations, which I believe have already been addressed”.

July 2016: At the July council meeting, Cr Toms asks if she can have a copy of a map that marks the location of alleged contaminated fill, as indicated by the former employee.
She said the council had not been “open and transparent” about the issue. Previously, Mr Greensill had invited Cr Toms to submit a formal GIPA (Government Information (Public Access)) and pay the associated fees “as a member of the public”.
The following comment was published, with her permission, on The Clarence Forum: “The reason he has given me is the issue of alleged asbestos has been dealt with and is not a matter that is before Council.”

September 2016: The Clarence Environment Centre’s John Edwards was given a map of where the alleged asbestos was buried, following an appeal against CVC’s initial rejection of his formal GIPA, on the grounds that “the information that you seek access to was provided to Council in confidence”.
The former employee tells the Independent that the map CVC released was not the same one he had given the council; however, he said his main concern was material dumped in the former STP’s sludge lagoon, as marked on the map given to Mr Edwards.

November 2016: Documents showing that 900 kilograms of asbestos pipes had been discovered during the sieving of 4,000 cubic metres of fill, along with “large pieces of concrete, tires and car parts, chain wire fencing and road markers”, are tabled at the November council meeting.

Clarence Valley Independent, 16 November 2016:

Investigations by Hutchison Builders, the contractor in charge of the project, have revealed that the “stockpiles detailed in the RAP and previous reports provided to Council have grown since the reports and, in many instances, are on top of existing stockpiles.

“This means that what has been assumed to be natural ground is actually uncontrolled fill.

“….The high level of organic material in the fill sifted thus far indicates risks with re-use of the material below the stockpiles and the significant amount of waste in the material will make it difficult to work with.

“In addition there is likely to be further asbestos in this material.

“…In accordance with their obligations the 3rd Party Auditor has notified EPA of the uncontrolled fill and asbestos materials that have been dumped on the site.

“EPA has contacted Council with regards to this and an initial response provided.

“The response was high level and further information is likely to be required by EPA.”

These ‘discoveries’, the PCG minutes state, could result in a variation to the contract of “$1million to $1.4million” if the ‘cleaned’ stockpile is retained and buried on site, however, “this option may not be acceptable to EPA and further advice from EPA may be required”.

“The potential costs for removing all of the uncontrolled fill and bio-solids will be in the order of $2m to 2.5m,” the PCG minutes state.

However, these costs would have had to have been met by CVC in any case, as it is bound to remediate the former sewerage treatment plant irrespective of a depot being constructed or not – and will be paid for out of the council’s sewer fund.

Meanwhile, the report to council states that “discovery and rectification of latent conditions will have an approximate 3 month delay to the overall construction programme”.

Four weeks of this delay was a result of the Parsons Brinckerhoff “RAP report and Technical specification reports [having] not been completed in accordance with EPA requirements”.

The report to council notes: “There remains a risk that NSW EPA may take action toward Council with regard to uncontrolled waste being placed at the site.”

And: “It is proposed that Council assess its options at a future date with regard to the suitability and validity of the RAP … there are numerous discrepancies and inadequacies associated with the document…”

The Independent sent a long list of questions to Clarence Valley Council following The Clarence Forum’s allegations that there is asbestos contamination at the proposed ‘super’ depot site at Tyson Street, South Grafton.

However, the general manager Scott Greensill, who described the forum’s convenor John Hagger’s allegations as “irresponsible scaremongering”, chose to answer the questions with the following statement:

“Council takes matters of community and workplace safety very seriously.
“All necessary actions in regards to possible asbestos at the proposed new depot site in Grafton are being managed in the appropriate and responsible manner.

“During the course of the redevelopment project Council is legally obliged to appropriately deal with any waste related matters, including asbestos, and these are encompassed in a site remediation action plan.

“Council has been in discussion with the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and SafeWork NSW who are both in concurrence with council’s current management and proposed actions.

“Council is aware that anonymous complaints were made to the EPA and SafeWork NSW late last year and these have been adequately attended to.

“Recurrent attempts of raising this matter appear to be emanating from one person, despite Council clearly demonstrating on numerous occasions to relevant authorities that the required protections and plans are in place.

“The ongoing raising of this issue is considered to be nothing more that irresponsible scaremongering.”

The questions posed by the Independent are below:

• SafeWork NSW has advised the Independent that it has “directed Council to ensure the site remains secure and that no unauthorised individuals or workers have access to the site” and that it has “also advised Council to update their asbestos register to reflect that asbestos is present at the site”. Has this occurred?

• How can I access the council’s asbestos register?

• SafeWork NSW has advised the Independent that it “is working with Council to develop safe systems of work for the remediation of the site set to start in early 2016”. How and when do you envisage that this will take place?

• If asbestos was known to be onsite (as reported by the ABC), why was this information omitted from the State Environment Planning Policy checklist – marked as not relevant – regarding Table 55 in the Managing Land Contamination Planning Guidelines, SEPP 55–Remediation of Land, when the planning proposal was exhibited?

• The planning proposal comment, however, says that “Council is in any case stepping through a ‘remediation action plan’ (RAP) process in respect of the contamination that has been detected at the site. If it’s not Table 55 contamination (eg asbestos); what are the specific contaminants referred to in the RAP?

• The EPA has publically stated that “asbestos on the site would require remediation before the land is developed”. However, director Troy Anderson stated in the ABC report that, “Council has a remediation action plan for the entire site which has identified a certain area which may have asbestos materials and we’ll be dealing with that as we move through construction.” Your statement is contrary to what was stated by the EPA [remediation before the land is developed]. What is the council doing regarding this apparent conflict?
• Will the site be remediated before any construction commences?

• The council’s asbestos policy states: “It is illegal to dispose of asbestos waste in domestic waste bins or to recycle, reuse, BURY or ILLEGALLY DUMP [the Independent’s emphasis] asbestos waste.” The council appears to have breached this policy, what is your response to that?

• Is the asbestos onsite regarded as friable or non-friable?

• What are the products onsite that contain asbestos?

• It has been alleged that some of the material dumped at the site has subsequently been removed and used elsewhere – has this occurred?

• If so, does CVC have a record of where this material has been used?

• It has been alleged that local residents may have removed material from the site, which may be contaminated by asbestos – what is CVC doing to manage this?

• What action does the council plan to take to advise and/or protect its employees regarding the asbestos, in accordance with the council’s asbestos policy?

Clarence Valley Council, media release, 10 February 2016:

Warning of misleading claims from petitioners

CLARENCE Valley residents, particularly those in the South Grafton area, have been advised to be cautious about information they might get from petitioners operating in the

Clarence Valley Council general manager, Scott Greensill, said residents had contacted the council’s customer service centres saying they had been approached to sign a petition
opposing the possible development of a new works depot in Tyson Street, South Grafton.

Mr Greensill said council had no issue with people expressing their opinions about developments or council activities, but encouraged those approached to seek more
information about any proposals before signing petitions.

“Some of the reports we have had are disturbing,” he said.

“One resident told us the petitioner refused to give his name and made a number of false claims about the possible depot development.

“She said he told her the council was going to dump asbestos waste near the South Grafton High School and that children were going to die from it. That is a completely irresponsible

“She also said there would be lights flashing all night, there would be machinery going at all hours and her property value would drop.

“She refused to sign his petition.

“People have a democratic right to voice their opinions about council and its operations, but they need to do that based on factual information – not on the basis of something someone
who refuses to identify himself has told them.

“If any residents or ratepayers want any factual information about this or any other proposal they should contact our customer service team.”

Release ends.