Councillors in hot water over polluted creek at quarry

Katie Milne and Gary Bagnall at the council quarry.
Katie Milne and Gary Bagnall at the council quarry. John Gass

DARK clouds are gathering over the Tweed's council chambers as the council's general manager David Keenan pushes ahead with his code of conduct complaints against councillors Katie Milne and Gary Bagnall.

The councillors landed in hot and possibly polluted water following their alleged unauthorised visit to Kinnears Quarry at Harry's Rd near Crystal Creek.

The councillors responded to complaints from a neighbour to the quarry who alleged the council run facility was oozing pollutants into a creek which runs on his property.

The councillors visited the site and GM Keenan alleges they did so by jumping a fence contrary to council directions.

Mr Keenan then filed an official Code of Conduct complaint against the councillors who now face a grilling by an independent review panel and possible disciplinary actions.

Councillor Bagnal said he sent Mr Keenan an email last Thursday evening telling Mr Keenan he was saddened by the entire affair and offered to make a public apology if the GM would drop his complaint but received no reply.

Councillor Milne said she was still trying to find out what the GM's charges actually were but felt the response was disproportionate to her actions.

"I don't believe it's a valid code of conduct complaint," Cr Milne said.

Councillor Milne said she feared for the ecology of the waterways in the whole area and had tried to get the issue on the agenda of the River Committee but was blocked at various times by past and present senior council officials.

"The state of the waterways is the most revolting I've ever seen.

Councillor Milne said when the neighbours moved in they looked at the quarry and said they had no problems as long as the council complied with regulations.

"Well, they've got a problem now," Cr Milne said.

About six years ago, the creek was six foot deep at places and contained clear running water.

It is hardly deeper than a few inches at the moment and contains a brown muck has turned a once healthy creek into a dead stream.

A Tweed Shire Council spokesperson said operations at the quarry stopped in 2011 as result of court action and since 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency had issued three notices, known as prevention notices, to council to manage acid rock drainage from the quarry.

The council had recently installed a treatment system for the acidic drainage water and creek water quality had shown improvement since the council started to manage the acid runoff.

Councillor Bagnall insisted the creek's condition was unacceptable and said the sediment would continue to ooze from the quarry for the next 100 years and the facility needed to be sealed properly and the creek cleaned up.

Topics:  councillors pollution quarry

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