Locals took to the streets of Penrith on August 5 to rally against a controversial plan by Dial A Dump and its director Ian Malouf to build a waste-to-energy incinerator at Eastern Creek, in Sydney’s west.
The rally marched to the electorate office of Minister for Western Sydney Stuart Ayres. It was timed to coincide with an Upper House inquiry into energy-from-waste technology due to begin on August 7.
The incinerator would be located only 800 metres from homes and 1.8 kilometres from three local schools. Prospect Reservoir forms part of Sydney's drinking water and is only five kilometres from the proposed site: this would put the drinking water of 4.5 million people under threat of contamination from toxic particulates.
Blacktown Mayor Stephen Bali praised the community for coming out against the incinerator “because it doesn't meet health standards, it doesn't meet environmental standards and it needs to be shut down”.
To chants of "Clean Air, No Incinerator", Councillor Todd Carney of Penrith Council said: "We will continue to fight this with the community until this is stopped and is dead in the water. Until that time we will keep up the fight."
Melinda Wilson from No Incinerator for Western Sydney told the rally: “In Western Sydney we already have a serious air quality problem and there are days when the EPA advises residents to stay indoors because the pollution is so bad. An incinerator running 24/7 will exacerbate this problem.”
Residents want the whole application and approval process for this incinerator proposal to be investigated. ABC’s Four Corners on August 7 revealed undercover surveillance of Dial A Dump sending waste to landfill in Queensland while Malouf publicly stated the opposite.
The next day, the Coalition voted to shut down debate on a Greens bill to stop the incinerator.
Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham, who sponsored the bill, said: “[Local MP] Tanya Davies and Stuart Ayres need to explain to the people of western Sydney why the Liberal Party has refused to allow even 15 minutes of parliamentary time so that debate could begin on this important issue.
“This is a slap in the face to all those people who don’t want the world’s largest toxic incinerator in their backyard. Do they not think this is an important issue worth debating in Parliament?”
Dial A Dump has released the results of an “independent survey” of 1200 local residents, 69% of whom supported the facility, while 27% strongly supported it.
No Incinerator for Western Sydney launched its own survey in April, which currently sits at 99.5% opposed.
All over the world incinerators are being closed or phased out. Private companies such as Dial A Dump are driven by a single objective — making profit. This will never lead to the best outcomes for our health, air, water and environment.
If we are serious about preserving our environment and reducing waste, the essential first step is to put waste management and recycling under full public ownership, so they are driven by the public good, not private greed.