Adjourned debate on motion of Hon. R.A. Simms:
That this council—
1. Notes with concern the proposed expansion of the White Rock Quarry in Horsnell Gully and the impact that this will have on health, the environment and air quality for residents in the Adelaide Hills.
2. Notes the risks posed by the toxic respirable crystalline silica dust that is lifted into the air by blasting.
3. Further notes that the South Australian Environment Protection Agency (EPA) does not specify separation distances in their guidelines for the operation of quarries containing silicates, and where the activity includes blasting.
4. Calls on the Minister for Energy and Mining and the Minister for Environment and Water to heed the concerns of the Residents Against White Rock Quarry, and
(a) reject Hanson Australia’s revised mine operations plan for the expansion of White Rock Quarry; and
(b) amend the current EPA guidelines to ensure minimum separation distances from residential properties.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (17:45): I rise to speak very briefly in support of the motion moved by my colleague, the Hon. Robert Simms. I have spoken previously about the Greens' concerns regarding the proposed expansion of the White Rock Quarry in Horsnell Gully, but I think it is worth reiterating today just why it is so important that we ensure that this proposed expansion, if it is to go ahead, is safe for the environment and for the local community.
Let's remember that White Rock Quarry is not just a quarry. The site is used to manufacture concrete and recycle construction and demolition waste as well. There are all sorts of materials and pollutants and dust being processed incredibly close to residential areas. Let's also not forget that this company is already in breach of its current licence due to the pollution of Third Creek. If Hanson Heidelberg Cement Group cannot avoid this scale of pollution while the quarry is at its current size, how will they manage pollutants following a 400 per cent expansion? A 400 per cent expansion is just not viable if they cannot manage the quarry at its current size.
Particularly following the winter rains, the difference in the water coming from the quarry was incredibly distinct and visibly different from the water entering the creek from other sources. The water from the quarry resembled thick yellowish sludge as it was deposited in Third Creek, from which it is flushed directly into the Torrens. Horsnell Gully, which White Rock Quarry is situated in, is also nestled in between Morialta Conservation Park, Horsnell Gully Conservation Park and Giles Conservation Park, serving as a critical wildlife corridor for local species. The expansion of this mine threatens to significantly narrow this wildlife corridor, and of course that is just one of the key concerns.
Another concern is the impact that the expansion of the quarry could have on health, as it produces respirable crystalline silica, known as RCS. This is a substance known to cause silicosis, the new asbestosis. There are 17 properties already within that 500-metre range of the White Rock Quarry activity boundary. The proposed expansion would push that out to 50 homes. Let's consider this in the face of the fact that, according to the Cancer Council, there are no known safe levels of RCS inhalation.
I commend my colleague for bringing this motion before the council and I welcome the support of the Labor opposition because it is absurd that private mines are now still somehow allowed in this state of ours to operate right up to the boundary of private homes. Residents are rightly concerned about the impacts of the dangerous dust produced by these mines and the impact they could have on them and their families. We know that exposure to silica dust in particular can lead to the development of lung cancer, silicosis, kidney disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Why are we needlessly exposing people to this? Why are we allowing miners to endanger residents' health?
As I have highlighted before, there is very little data or information available on the health impacts of exposure to particles if you are living near a quarry. I urge the government to listen to the concerns of local residents and to reject Hanson Australia's revised plan for the expansion of White Rock Quarry. This plan goes deeply against the community's interests. I commend the motion.