Keep organic material out of waste streams

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Queanbeyan reader GERRY GILLESPIE, of the Zero Waste International Trust, has a simple solution to toxic-waste fires…

THE article by Danielle Nohra (“Taking a stand on the fears of toxic-waste fires”, CN May 6) and her interview with historian Prof Beatrice Bodart-Bailey, highlights a well-based fear of toxic fires at waste facilities.

It is worth noting that while some fires are chemically based, or caused by lightning strikes, the great majority of fires at “waste” facilities are caused by the spontaneous combustion of organic materials. 

The simple way to avoid this is to keep organic material out of waste streams. 

In the ACT, there is an increased interest in generating jobs, wealth and benefit from recovered materials and a simple way to expand this is to use existing organic-waste processors, coupled with a ban on organics to landfill, to manufacture a high-quality compost product to apply to ACT public or forestry land.

Currently, the physical burial cost of disposal of waste to landfill, including the replacement cost of landfill, is well over $100 a tonne. 

If organic waste was diverted to the current commercial compost operators in the ACT, a quality product could be manufactured for less than the actual landfill cost. 

If this material was composted with the biosolids from Lower Molonglo sewage works, it would make a high-value, humus-laden product that in turn could be used to raise the soil carbon levels in the ACT’s agriculturally degraded soils.

The increase in soil-carbon levels could be sold to generate government revenue for the benefit of the ACT community. Any loss in landfill revenue to ACT Treasury would be more than offset by the reduced emissions generated by increased soil quality and the increased carbon sales in the world carbon market.

Gerry Gillespie, Zero Waste International Trust, Queanbeyan

Navigating Namatjira Hurdles

IS there no end to this ACT Labor/Greens coalition’s determination to turn Canberra into a nanny state?

Now we’ve got a whole series of concrete humps along the length of Namatjira Drive. The placement of some defies logic. 

Namatjira Drive is no longer a “Drive”. Its name will need to be changed. I suggest Namatjira Hurdles. 

Clinton White, via email

Residents’ safety should come first

In 2015, the Environment and Planning Directorate engaged Calibre Consulting to complete a flood study of the playing fields to the east of Kippax Fair. 

This study indicated that the area did not have sufficient capacity to fully convey even a one-in-five-year event flow and recommended a number of mitigation works to prevent flooding. Even though property and lives of the surrounding residents were at risk the Barr government did nothing.

In July, 2020, Calibre provided an updated flood study for the government. It assumed global temperatures would only rise 1.4 degrees Celsius (rather than 1.5 to 2 degrees) and a critical storm duration for the study area of 25 minutes rather than 24 hours as was the case in the last major flooding event in 2018. 

Calibre again recommended flood-mitigation works and commented: “Further development of the Kippax Group may exacerbate these existing flooding issues and introduce people closer to the flooding risks if the recommended mitigation measures are not undertaken”.

In September, 2020, the government rezoned the Kippax playing fields “core commercial” for the building of shops and town houses on the floodplain. 

It has proposed that a new road and pedestrian walkway be constructed at 90 degrees to the flow of floodwaters. Calibre’s updated flood study did not take this proposed infrastructure into account.

What will it take for the Barr government to prioritise residents’ safety over unwise developments?

Glenys and Phil Byrne, Florey 

Dickson dilemma, no public toilets

THE photo of the impressive interior features of the ACT Planning Directorate’s new abode in Dickson (“How the planning directorate is failing Canberra”, CN May 5) suggests that every floor would also contain state-of-the-art toilets for staff. Lucky them. 

This new building complex opens directly on to an unappealing (and meanly landscaped) concrete wasteland that is the three-year-old Dickson Interchange, a piece of major inner-north public servicing infrastructure that still fails to offer public toilet facilities. 

The nearest ones remain more than 500 metres away, with restricted opening hours. 

Nor do the City Renewal Authority’s plans for its $3 million upgrade of nearby Woolley Street include any public toilet facilities. 

Local Kurrajong MLA and key promoter of the ACT Government Wellbeing Index, Chief Minister Andrew Barr, wants this whole area to be much more publicly accessible and vibrant, day and night. Yet his planning, health and city services directorates and their many consultants continue to display an unco-ordinated and uncaring approach to meeting basic public health, hygiene and social inclusion needs in this part of the large Dickson Group Centre.

Sue Dyer, Downer 

Woes of the ‘white elephant’ prison

JOHN Hargreaves, a former Labor MLA, says he is proud to have been part of building the Alexander Maconochie Centre, a very ineffective and expensive white elephant of a prison.

Incarcerating people on remand or sentenced, of different genders and religions, and of indigenous people all in the one facility without problems are difficult, but achievable. This begs the question, why was there no apparent attempt made during the early design stages to address this issue?

Mario Stivala, Belconnen

How to fix the prison problems

A SIMPLE suggestion for the “Prison Crisis” is for people to behave themselves.

Phillip Frankcombe, O’Connor

Apologies to ABP…

And where along the Gungahlin Line, the reed beds sweep and sway, 

To the breezes, and the rolling stock beside, 

The tram from Molonglo River wends its urban-bushland way, 

While sinking-in’s the message of the ride.

Jack Kershaw, Kambah 

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