Concrete is a vital building material which of course comes from sand. The construction industry has an insatiable appetite for sand, but existing sand mines are beginning to run out and the search is on to find new areas which will provide needed material for our future developments.
There are three sand mines extraction operations in Cairns at Holloways, Carvonica and Yorkeys Knob, with the Carvonica site has been approved for extension. In the next couple of months the council will be considering a new proposal for sand mine development just off the Lower Freshwater road only a few hundred meters from Peace Lutheran College and Freshwater Primary school and not to mention very populated areas.
Our Mayor Val Shier and Councillor Margaret Cochrane were present at the Peace Lutheran College community event on the 11th of February with over 100 local residents expressing their concern over Freshwater sand mine development. Both ladies have noted that the proposed sand mine will most likely not be approved, however the local residents and Rob Fysh, the principal of Peace Lutheran College fear the worst.
Most of the information in assessing the risk of silica has been from the mining industry because in that area the dust exposures are higher, and they can be measured and the workforce can be monitored.
As one of the parents who have their child in Peace Luthern College, I have to agree with their concerns. After doing my research on the side affect of sand mining, I have come to some understanding how serious this issue is.
- A review by The Cancer Council Queensland of cases of lung cancer around quarries in the Redlands region found higher than average rates of cancer. A prominent cancer specialist responded by noting the harmful nature of exposure to silica dust.
- Sand mining creates hidden dangers, with pollutants lurking in the air and drinking water.
- Being exposed to respirable crystalline silica, a known carcinogen that can be so small, it’s invisible to the human eye.
- The higher the cumulative dose of respirable Silica, the greater the risks of silicosis and of lung cancer.
- These are the health issues we will be facing if the proposed mine goes ahead and of course the environmental changes that our water ways will experience.
Before this development is even lodged with the Cairns City Council we should urge a study to measure the health and environment hazards of our existing sand mine sites and the surrounding areas are showing.
So far there has been 943 submissions received, but this is not going to be enough to stop this development to go ahead!
If you wish to get participate or learn more please visit http://www.sandmine.com.au
Michael Moore’s article in Cairnsblog.net on the Barron and Thomatis Delta is an interesting read.