Judith Ballard yesterday, at the place she once thought of as home.
Judith Ballard yesterday, at the place she once thought of as home. Renee Pilcher

Toxic run-off enough to leave home

“GET me out of here!” was the cry yesterday from Southside dump neighbour Judith Ballard, who has had enough of what she says is toxic run-off from the tip.

“I just want council to buy me out so I can get on with my life,” she said yesterday.

However, Gympie Regional Council Works and Services Committee chairman Larry Friske yesterday said council was doing better than that.

Instead of Ms Ballard having to leave, council was shifting the dump.

“It’s used as a transfer station for domestic rubbish now, green waste is all used as mulch, metals are increasingly recycled, there are no poisons and the only material dumped there is construction waste, such as concrete and old timber,” he said.

“Ultimately we’ll be recycling everything except the squeak the nails make when we pull them out of the timber.”

Ms Ballard says this may all be too late for her.

The problem of toxic run-off from the dump had worsened with the re-organisation of the facility, because increased sealed surface area had led to increased run-off.

It may be years of storm flushes before the run-off is clean, under current circumstances. “And I don’t have that long,” she said.

“I’ve had five cats die and my horses got sick.

“I sent the horses to Tamworth and they got better.

“Now I have to fence off the creek to prevent my animals from drinking it.

“I just want out,” she said yesterday.

“I probably shouldn’t have bought here in the first place but I didn’t realise.”

But if Ms Ballard did not realise the potential problem when she bought the property, conservationists say the same cannot be said for the council.

Queensland Greens spokesperson Libby Connors yesterday said council had been “aware of the dangers of contaminated run-off from the Southside Waste Management facility for more than 14 years.

“The Noosa and Hinterland branch of the party obtained information from the former Cooloola Shire Council under Freedom of Information processes in the mid-1990s that revealed dangerously high levels of arsenic and heavy metals from a number of testing sites, including council tips.”

In a reference to Ms Ballard’s property she said: “Dead wildlife and pets found on a property bordering the Southside tip over the past three to four years indicate that dangerous problems remain with council landfill sites.

“It is a disgrace that council sites that border creeks that flow into the Mary River have been allowed to continue to pollute, given all the community concern about the Mary River.”

Cr Friske said no chemicals were accepted at the facility and domestic rubbish was transferred away.

“There’s just metal and builders’ waste. Within the next five years, we’ll have 90 percent recycling or better. All metals will be fully recycled, all timber used as power station fuel and we’ll aim for 100 per cent re-use,” he said.

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