Toxic dust has long been a concern of Townsville residents. Being home to a large industrial port, it is no great surprise that Townsville is exposed to various forms of dust. The location of the port so close to the CBD, the strand and residential areas means that any potential exposure caused by the port would have a large and immediate impact. Its high visibility also ensures it remains a point of community concern.
In late 2014, NQCC commissioned Professor Mark Taylor from Macquarie University to undertake a study of the situation downwind of the port. His ensuing report, Atmospherically Deposited Metal and Metalloid Dust Contamination in Inner Townsville, was made public in November 2104, following a presentation to invited port stakeholders.
The work was subsequently written up for publication and, after peer review, published in the Journal Science of the Total Environment, 515-516 (2015) 143-152. The report and associated published paper, originally downplayed by the Port and State Government, continued to attract considerable public attention. Click here for our blog posts on the issue and here to check our archive for older posts.
In March 2015, the Port agreed to set up a group PSWG Terms of Reference to look at the issues involved. The first meeting of the Port Stakeholders Working Group (PSWG) was held on 7 April.
Around the table were representatives of:
- NQCC (Wendy Tubman and Bill Laing, later replaced by Charlie McColl)
- Townsville City Council
- BHP Billiton (Cannington)
- Glendora, Queensland Nickel
- Townsville Bulk Storage and Handling
- Northern Stevedoring Services
- the Departments of Environment and Heritage Protection, and Science, IT and Innovation
- Queensland Health and
- the Port of Townsville.
By the following meeting, and following a public call and selection by members of the PSWG, four committee representatives (Judy Newman, Ian Ferguson, Clive Berger, James Hobbs) had been appointed.
In August 2016 the group released the monthly Operations Data Dashboard. The dashboard is the result of 15 months effort by the group to increase transparency and accountability to the public
The Operations Data Dashboard presents information on:
- The purpose of the PSWG
- The type of equipment used to measure air quality in Townsville and by whom
- Cargo types handled at the Townsville Port
- Access to live air quality readings from the XACT Monitor at the CoastGuard
- Monthly data graphs from three monitoring sites showing
- General total dust levels
- Lead in dust levels
- General dust deposition levels
- Shipping data (vessel type, commodity, date, berth visited) both retrospective and on a live schedule
- Climatic data from the Bureau of Meteorology
On September 6 2016 Charlie McColl released an article through NQCC, Townsville Port Still Battling Lead Dust Pollution, in response to the release of the Operations Data Dashboard. The article outlines the need for more work to be done to account for lead dust pollution from the port and to further reduce the levels Townsville is exposed to.
PSWG Data Dashboard
PSWG Meeting Minutes
PSWG November 2015 minutes • PSWG October 2015 minutes • PSWG September 2015 minutes • PSWG August 2015 minutes • PSWG July 2015 Minutes • PSWG June 2015 Minutes • PSWG May 2015 Minutes • PSWG April 2015 Minutes
PSWG Meeting Presentations
- Coastguard monitoring Nov 2015
- TBSH Presentation 31 July 2015
- NSS Presentation 24 June 2015
- Cannington South 32 Presentation 24 June 2015
- Glencore Presentation 24 June 2015
- DEHP Presentation to PSWG 27 May 2015
- Presentation from POTL (An overview of the Port) 7 April 2015
- Env Footprint of Cruise ships
Media Statements from the PSWG
- PSWG Data Dashboard Released - 26 August 2016
- PSWG Media Statement November 2015
- PSWG Media Statement 5 August 2015
- PSWG Media Statement 24 June
- PSWG Media Statement of 27 May
Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation's Air Quality Bulletins
- Air Quality Bulletin May 2016
- Air Quality Bulletin April 2016
- Air Quality Bulletin March 2016
- Air Quality Bulletin February 2016
- Air Quality Bulletin January 2016
- Air Quality Bulletin December 2015
- Air Quality Bulletin November 2015
- Air Quality Bulletin October 2015
- Air Quality Bulletin September 2015
- Air Quality Bulletin August 2015
- Air Quality Bulletin July 2015
- Air Quality Bulletin June 2015
- Air Quality Bulletin May 2015
- Air Quality Bulletin April 2015
- Bulletins prior to 2015
• Last updated 13/10/2016
Between them, the very low level of Ross Dam, TCC's water restrictions (currently Level 3) and the continuing lack of rain focused unprecedented attention on Townsville's water security from 2015 onwards and particularly from 2016 after the city recorded its driest-ever year in 2015 (2016 was not much better). It seems that most people realise there is no single solution - that we will have to approach the problem on several fronts to fix it - but there is little agreement on priorities.
NQCC published four blog posts under the heading NQCC Water Security Series towards the end of 2016:
- Part 1: Townsville Water Discussion Paper (Gail Hamilton)
- Part 2: Water Wonderland or Pipe Dreams? (Vern Veitch, re Hell's Gate Dam)
- Part 3: Hell’s Gate Dam Forum (Maree Dibella for NQCC)
- Part 4: How will climate change affect Townsville’s water security? (Malcolm Tattersall)
A Case For a Floating Solar Farm in Townsville’s Ross River Dam (Elly Hanrahan) is not nominally part of the series but follows naturally from it.Read more
This study on the viability of a Floating Solar Farm on the Ross Dam is a guest post by Elly Hanrahan, an intern for the North Queensland Conservation Council. All views expressed are the author's and not necessarily those of the NQCC.
Townsville is currently experiencing its driest 11-month period since records began in 1841. With no action on water security from any level of government, desperate residents have formed the newly created Facebook group called ‘Water For Townsville Action Group’ in order to come up with a plan to secure Townsville’s water supply into the future.Read more
This, the fourth post in our water security series, began as a response to the first of them, the Townsville Water Discussion Paper, and addresses an issue which none of the first three looked at. Parts 2 and 3 are here and here. This is a guest post by Malcolm Tattersall. Once again, views expressed are the author’s, not those of NQCC.
When I read Gail Hamilton’s post six weeks ago I agreed with nearly all of it but noticed a gap which was potentially important, i.e. the impact of climate change on our water security: the ‘Regional Water Supply Security Assessment’ from the Department of Water and Energy Supply (2014) (pdf here), upon which she relied for her ‘current situation’ section, didn’t consider climate change effects at all.
That seemed quite odd to me since we know that climate change is with us already on a global level – that most of the hottest years on record have occurred this century, that desertification is a key driver of conflicts in the Middle East, and that sea level rise is drowning low-lying islands and threatening major cities around the world. Some of us have also been feeling, on a much more local and personal level, that Townsville has been having weaker Wet seasons and hotter summers than ever before, and I happened to know, because I looked at it recently, that Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) data backs up our feelings.Read more
This is the third part in a four-part series that discusses issues about water in our region. Read part 1 here. Read part 2 here. Part four asks how climate change will affect our region’s water security.
NQCC hosted a forum about the Hell’s Gate Dam feasibility study currently being conducted by Townsville Enterprise Ltd. NQCC was grateful to have the on-hand expertise of Patricia O’Callaghan (TEL CEO), David Lynch (principal economist for the study) and Jon Brodie (waterways expert). Here is what we were told about the dam and the study, plus questions that came from the audience.Read more
This is the second part in a four-part series that discusses issues about water in our region. Read part 1 here. Part three is a summary report of information shared by Townsville Enterprise Ltd. about the Hell’s Gate Dam feasibility study at our forum that was held on 10 October. Part four asks how climate change will affect our region’s water security.
Guest post written by Vern Veitch. All views expressed are the author’s and not the official opinion of NQCC.
With Townsville in a drought and under Level 3 water restrictions, the public are asking a lot of questions. Water falls out of the sky so why does it cost so much? Why don’t we just build another dam? If the dams are on higher ground, then why does water have to be pumped?
Mainstream media in Townsville certainly muddies the waters by publishing half-truths and not publishing all the really important bits of information. Through a concerted media effort, the public has been led to believe that Hell’s Gate is the answer to endless and cheap water.Read more
On Friday 7th October, NQCC coordinated the Townsville event for National Divestment Day. We went to our banks and gave them the message that if they continue to choose fossil fuels, then we will choose a different bank.
Customers turned out across Australia on the 7th and 8th of October 2016 to demand real climate change action from their bank! ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, NAB and Westpac were held accountable to the fact that they promised climate change action but continued to fund the expansion of the dirty fossil fuel industry. Accounts were closed, cards cut up and more letters of warning from customers who are ready to move their money if the banks don’t deliver real climate change action.Read more
Here is a directory of different groups providing volunteer opportunities with on-ground conservation or environmental projects in the local region:
Conservation Volunteers Australia projects in Townsville region – check this website to confirm correct dates, meeting location and contact details. Projects include Creekwatch (water quality testing and surveys), Friends of Cape Pallarenda Quarantine Station and native revegetation nursey.Read more
On Sunday 14th of August, NQCC hosted a fundraising dinner to celebrate our community of past committee members, donors, volunteers and staff. Additionally, former NQCC Coordinator Susan Brown was visiting Townsville after spending the past 11 years in Geneva working for WWF. We thought a dinner at the NQCC HQ would be a good opportunity for our community to gather.Read more
On the 11th of August, NQCC staffers Maree Dibella and Jacob Miller attended Hon. Dr Steven Miles’ presentation on the challenges facing the Great Barrier Reef, as the Virginia Chadwick Memorial Lecture. Dr Miles unveiled the findings of a report by the Water Science Taskforce that details an $8.2 billion strategy to save the reef over the next decade.
The strategy is to reduce the amount of sediment that runs off into the reef by managing vegetation clearing and addressing gully erosion. Of particular concern is the Fitzroy catchment near Rockhampton, taking about three-quarters of the recommended funding, as well as the Burdekin catchment to the south of Townsville, which requires $1.39 billion for rehabilitation.Read more