COMPLAINTS RECORDED: Ballina bypass construction work on the Pacific Highway near the Ross Lane interchange.
COMPLAINTS RECORDED: Ballina bypass construction work on the Pacific Highway near the Ross Lane interchange.

Road's environmental toll

SIX environmental incidents have occurred during work on the Ballina bypass in as many months, bringing the total to 24 over a two-year period.

The Ballina Bypass Alliance has released its fourth six-monthly environmental report.

It also reveals the alliance received 19 complaints about the work between December last year and the end of June.

Forty-two per cent of those complaints related to property damage.

This included seven complaints about car windscreens being cracked by rocks falling from passing trucks.

In March about 40 litres of oil spilled when a hydraulic hose became loose.

It was reported that the oil was contained in a bund and that eight bags of bioactive spill-absorbent material were used in the clean-up.

Two cubic metres of contaminated soil were removed from the site.

But no offsite environmental impacts were caused as a result of the spill.

The following week about 20 litres of diesel fuel was spilled when a truck’s fuel tank was damaged.

According to the environmental report, the diesel was contained and the leak was immediately repaired.

“Diesel was removed from the tank to prevent further spillage,” the report states.

“Earth bunding was constructed.

“Incident response was fast and effective and the haul road was levelled to prevent a reoccurrence.”

Another 30 litres of oil spilled when a waste oil tank sprung a leak over the weekend of May 15-17 when the project was shut down.

Although the oil went outside the bunded containment area, no oil entered any surrounding waterways.

But 12 bags of spill-absorbent material were used to clean up the oil.

So far there have been 24 environmental breaches – an average of one a month.

The first environmental report, which covered the period from June to December 2008, identified 16 complaints, 14 non-conformances andseven environmental incidents, including two minor oil spills.

Twenty-one complaints were made in the second reporting period, with 35 complaints in the third period.

One of the five environmental incidents in the third report detailed the unauthorised removal of a vulnerable plant species, the hairy joint grass.



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