Opposition grows to M5 'death stack'
By Jonathan Singer
SYDNEY — About 100 people packed the Ferncourt primary school hall in Marrickville on August 11 to begin organising against the construction of the unfiltered exhaust stack for the M5 freeway tunnel in the neighbouring suburb of Turella. The meeting, organised by concerned local residents, extends the opposition to the stack beyond the group in Turella and nearby Eastwood, Residents against Polluting Stacks (RAPS).
Giselle Mawer and Mark Curran from RAPS told the meeting the government had restricted distribution of information about the freeway plans and not conducted a new environmental impact assessment, as required, when the original proposal for three stacks was changed to one. Vehicle emissions, especially through an increased concentration of very small particles in the air, would impair lung function and increase respiratory disease, causing illness and death.
Marrickville councillor Sylvia Hale addressed projections of significant increases in truck traffic on the suburb's main roads because of the freeway construction.
An organiser, Fran Kelly, said the meeting had been called after the local council's Labor majority had opposed informing residents about the health and traffic consequences of the stack.
The question and discussion period was fiery, especially after Barry Cotter, the Labor mayor, addressed the meeting. He expressed "concern" about the stack, but not any willingness to use council resources to resolve problems being created by the state Labor government project.
Some contributors to the discussion addressed whether individual residents or the government and construction company bore responsibility for solving the environmental problems.
The meeting called "for an immediate halt to work on the M5 East stack and motorway" until the concerns raised were independently assessed and answered. It called on the state government, including the local MP, planning minister Andrew Refshauge, to implement alternatives to the unfiltered stack: in the meeting, the example of Norway's success in vehicle tunnel exhaust filtering was raised.
The meeting organisers can be contacted on (02) 9573 0360.