Chemical containers found dumped in bush
KEV Smith is a passionate outdoors kind of guy and shares his love of our forests with travellers and through his photos and online blog.
So he was horrified to stumble across a huge pile of empty chemical containers dumped in the Wedding Bells State Forest north-west of Woolgoolga earlier this week.
The labels clearly show they were containers for various kinds of pesticides used in agriculture - some highly toxic like Spectrum 200SC and Lannate.
Lannate is restricted in the US and banned from use in many European countries due to worker safety and is up for review in Australia. Spectrum 200SC has been banned across Europe largely due to its impacts on bees and is acutely toxic to aquatic invertebrates and highly toxic to insects.
The containers were found along Knobbys Lookout Rd and the bottom end of Knobbys Fire Rd.
Kev had been scouting for new tracks to show visitors to our region.
"This is happening way too often. Most of the stuff I found would have been free to take to the tip," he said.
"The bush around the Coffs Coast is very sensitive with rare plants and animals, it's where the mountains meet the sea. We have enough trouble attracting people to come, stay and play here at Coffs - we definitely don't need this."
He has alerted the Environmental Protection Authority and Forestry Corporation which manages State Forests.
A spokesman for the EPA responded to The Advocate's enquiry with the following statement.
"The Environment Protection Authority takes illegal dumping seriously and is investigating this report as a priority," the spokesman said.
"The EPA the local council and the landowner (the Forestry Corporation of NSW) will work together to investigate the source of the dumping.
"Heavy penalties including fines can apply for illegal dumping."
Kev said he is determined to see the perpetrators identified and punished and says four-wheel-drivers often cop the blame for this kind of dumping.
"I want everyone to know I'm not going to let go of this, and if we don't take a stand and report these kind of things - the bush often gets locked up because of one or two pathetic people."
He has also offered to help with the clean up.
Coffs Harbour councillor and independent candidate in the upcoming state election Dr Sally Townley has been calling for greater regulation of the agriculture sector and she is aware of the recent dumping.
"This is lazy, illegal and dangerous behaviour. Here we have a farm operator who thinks it's okay to dispose of chemical containers by dumping them. What other laws are they also disregarding?" Dr Townley said.
She said some of the chemicals were dangerous to human and environmental health and the local horticultural industry was plagued with non-compliance.
"As a community, we have faced issues with agricultural chemicals in the past with bananas and now face issues with blueberries and other horticultural crops. Everyone has a right to be protected from chemical exposure. This is certainly not an isolated incident."
She has also responded to Nationals candidate Gurmesh Singh's commitment to establish an Agriculture Commissioner.
"If this industry is to be sustainable over the long term, it needs to clean up its act. The Nationals are proposing an Agricultural Commissioner to protect farmers. This could have value but who is protecting people from rogue farmers?" she said.