Latest News and Media Releases - Illawarra Greens

Who is poisoning the water? EPA to probe toxins pouring into Port Kembla waterways

Port Kembla resident Jess Whittaker, a Greens party member who has been involved with highlighting a number of recent incidences of water pollution happening in Wollongong creeks, said she took a water sample from a drain about six weeks ago near Foreshore Road after noticing "funny looking" water flowing into it.

She sent these to be analysed by University of Western Sydney water scientist Dr Ian Wright, who told her he was stunned by the levels of pollution. Contaminants found included arsenic, lead, copper, zinc and uranium.

Read the article by Kate McIlwain in The Illawarra Mercury, 16 November 2020

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Wollongong City Council takes a stand, opposing Wollongong Coal plans

Read the article by Ben Langford in The Illawarra Mercury, 28 October 2020

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Traffic debate: Call to declare Wollongong beaches 'full' to outsiders on Sundays

In a debate over whether overhead electronic signage should be used to tell motorists when northern suburbs roads and beach car parks are full, Wollongong Labor councillor Janice Kershaw indicated Sundays should be off limits for out of town visitors. Councillors voted unanimously to approach Transport NSW and ask them if it is possible to use the signs to indicate traffic levels, travel times and parking availability this summer, which is expected to be busier than usual due to restricted travel opportunities. But Greens Councillor Mithra Cox said the council should avoid the "ugly tendency" of suggesting beaches were for locals only.

"I don't think that we're full, and I think that we can still be welcoming to visitors in our city," she said. "There is an ugly tendency I have heard from some of our residents to want to make the beaches for the exclusive use of locals only and I think we need to be really careful not to fall into that trap. Our beaches are free for anybody to use, including people from Western Sydney. It is very hot if you live in western Sydney, people live there because they can't afford a house near the beach, and they have just as much right to come to the beach and have a swim on a Sunday as anybody else."

She suggested the council should examine its "car dependency" problem, noting there was plenty of space on beaches but that different ways of travelling were needed.

Read the report by Kate McIlwain in The Illawarra Mercury, 27 October 2020

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Port Kembla Gas Terminal raises ocean water cooling concerns

Wollongong Greens councillor Cath Blakey is calling for strict compliance to environmental conditions for the recently approved Port Kembla floating gas terminal to ensure the sea is not polluted by cooled, chlorinated water.

The $250-million project was approved by the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment in April 2019 then this year placed on the NSW Government priority list to be fast-tracked.

Councillor Blakey said sea water was used to bring the liquified natural gas (LNG) back from minus 161 degrees to room temperature, while chlorinated water was used to stop barnacles growing on the pipes.

"So there is a condition on their discharge licence that the cold water discharge can only be 7 degrees lower than the ambient temperature of the water in the receiving body, so in the harbour," she said. "This will have to be strictly monitored to make sure that we don't have cold, dense chlorinated water falling to the floor of the harbour. It is planned that if it's done well it should mix in with the harbour water and we won't get a concentrated cold water pollution problem."

Read the ABC News report by Nick McClaren, 27 October 2020

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Environmentalists furious at council claim the public had made 'zero comment' on mine expansion

Greens Councillor Cath Blakey will raise a motion at next Monday's council meeting that "on the basis of community concerns of increased heavy vehicle traffic, dust, noise, threat to the drinking water catchment, Aboriginal heritage sites and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as Wollongong Coal's poor track record on workplace safety, debt servicing and operating compliance" the council oppose the mine expansion.

Read the article by Ben Langford in The Illawarra Mercury, 21 October 2020

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Confusion over coal trucks that could be back on Russell Vale's streets

However, residents did in fact have an issue with the project - which saw Wollongong Coal spending six months removing coal stockpiles.

Greens Wollongong City Councillor Cath Blakey also addressed the commission.

"This Russell Vale coal mine pit top is the closest mine to residential areas anywhere in Australia," Cr Blakey said. "There are significant adverse impacts when it comes to water, flooding, dust, noise and air pollution.There are outstanding financial liabilities for remediation work. For a company that has paid no tax since 2013, has $1 billion of debt, on balance of the benefits an the adverse impacts, this project is not in the public interest."

Read the article by Glenn Humphries in The Illawarra Mercury, 19 October 2020

And ABC News report: https://www.facebook.com/greenscath/videos/2523536744603431

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Verge gardens: Expect to see veggies popping up on Wollongong nature strips soon

This change came about when Wollongong Greens councillor Cath Blakey asked the council to come up with more formal guidelines after a Woonona neighbourhood dispute in 2019. Cr Blakey said the new guidelines would help ensure there were no similar issues in the future.

The council's parks and open spaces manager Paul Tracey said he hoped to see many more verge gardens, especially those making use of the many local natives available at the Greenplan nursery. And Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said there were great benefits to planting a verge garden.

Read the article by Kate McIlwain in The Illawarra Mercury, 16 October 2020

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Rangers track perpetrator of latest Figtree creek pollution incident

"We were fortunate that people out walking along the footpath at Byarong Creek raised the alarm and reported it to council straight away," said Cr Blakey. "All stormwater drains lead to local creeks and eventually the sea. Byarong Creek flows through Figtree into American Creek, then Allans Creek and eventually Tom Thumb Lagoon also known as Port Kembla Harbour. We need to stop pollution from the source to the sea."

Read the article by Ben Langford in The Illawarra Mercury, 1 October 2020

See the report by ABC Illawarra, 1 October 2020

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Wollongong eateries, bars to stay open until 2am to boost nightlife economy

The policy excludes pubs and clubs, which will still have to work with police to determine their hours, and will apply only to the city centre within commercial, mixed use and tourist zones.

Greens councillor Mithra Cox, who has long pushed for more activity within the CBD said the policy would help new businesses.

"There has been a reluctance to approve late-night trading hours for any new businesses, so only existing businesses are able to trade past midnight, and for restaurants it's 10pm, which is really early," she said. "That means the concentration of late-night venues at the moment is basically the big pubs that have been around for ever. So the really significant and exciting thing about this policy is that means new players will be more easily able to get a late night trading license, which means there will be more options for people, and most of those newer players are smaller venues."

Read the article by Kate McIlwain in The Illawarra Mercury, 15 September 2020

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Call to resurrect Crown Street Mall water play park to help ailing shops

"It's not our job to determine what type of shops there are, or at what price they are rented ... our job is the public domain," she said. "My grand vision for the mall is that we would have something that would keep people there for a long time and make it a destination in and of itself - the thing I would absolutely love would be a water play park like they have at Darling Harbour. When we have a reason for people to come and people to stay there - especially if kids want to come and parents will stay - it will mean they buy coffee, they do the shopping while they're there and they'll spend money there that they wouldn't otherwise do."

Indeed, about 10 years ago, the council proposed to build a children's water play area in front of the Church on the Mall. However, this design was scrapped after residents chided the council for lack of change room facilities nearby. Others raised concerns over the impact on brides getting married at the church, and the potential for people to slip on the wet ground.

Read the article by Kate McIlwain in The Illawarra Mercury, 1 September 2020

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