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Progress from the Start of Save Our Macleay River

In 2013, a group of consultants made several recommendations to Government about how to deal with the arsenic contaminated tailings from a processing facility at Urunga. One option presented was to truck 30,000M3 for storing and possibly processing to Hillgrove, on top of the escarpment in the upper Macleay catchment.

Many people thought it was crazy and resulted in well-attended public meeting at Bellbrook, in spite of the 40 degree heat! To prevent this option happening, a steering committee was formed and soon after Save Our Macleay River (SOMR) was incorporated with the objective: “To ensure clean water throughout the Macleay”.

Recently, a SOMR committee member visited the Urunga site where the contaminated material has been contained in sealed capsule and Urunga Wetlands successfully restored. The photos of recreation area where there had been a ‘Legacy Mine’ reminded us of SOMR’s beginnings.

SOMR was not involved in the restoration project of the derelict antimony mine at Urunga, but the issue was the trigger to actively care about the health of the Macleay.

Since then SOMR Inc. has:

  • Organised Public meetings in Kempsey and Gladstone, to relay and communicate issues to the community. For example, presentations regarding antimony/arsenic issues and Clybucca Wetlands rehabilitation project.
  • Established working relationships with Hillgrove Mines, scientists from UNE and Southern Cross University, Kempsey Shire Council, Local Land Services, Office of Environment and Heritage, the Environmental Defenders Office and other key stakeholders.
  • Participated in re-establishing and meetings of the Macleay Contamination Working Group, with many Govt agencies in attendance.
  • Participated in the Macleay Coastal Zone Management Plan Scoping Study – identifying the issues as a first stage toward a legislative CZMP.
  • Taken water samples at Bellbrook for analysis by Professor Scott Johnson of SCU, to build up our understanding and find appropriate resolutions for the antimony, arsenic and nitrates within the Macleay River.
  • Reviewed and provided input/submissions on issues that relate to the water quality of the River and tributaries. Including: changes to environmental legislation (such as biodiversity, land clearing, logging etc.)
  • Reviewed the Derelict Mines Audit report for sources and recommendations and will follow up and monitor progress with remediations and actions recommended.
  • Annually hosted ‘Paddles on the Macleay’ to highlight issues and view areas of concern and successful rehabilitations from the water. These include the Bellbrook and Kempsey river areas and the Clybucca and Yarrahapinni Wetland areas.

While ‘The Paddles’ are enjoyable and always highly informative events, SOMR continues to be an important community group working on the many issues concerning the health of the Macleay River.

saveourmacleayriver.com

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