What your donation will do
Your donation now will mean NCC can maintain pressure on the government to properly fund and enforce the monitoring and prosecution of pollution breaches.
You will help us mount a campaign for community involvement in the solution.
Your voice and your support is what will bring these polluters, and the regulator, to account.
Specifically, your donation will help:
From sites all over NSW highly toxic chemicals like arsenic and hexavalent chromium are being released into the environment without the public even being notified or knowing it could be happening near them.
Chemical manufacturer Orica has breached its pollution licence more than 100 times at its locations in Kooragang Island in Stockton, a suburb of Newcastle, and at Port Botany in the past 11 years.
Yet, according to the public record, the Environment Protection Authority did not issue Orica with a single prevention, clean up or penalty notice for breaches committed during this 11 year period.
In the space of just a few weeks there was a major breach when toxic hexavalent chromium was released into the air in the residential suburb of Stockton.
It took two days before residents began to be notified, in spite of the fact that a greasy chemical residue was coating all open surfaces and workers at the plant were quickly washed and told to discard their clothing.
Another breach occurred a couple of weeks later, when arsenic was discharged into the Hunter River, directly across from the Kooragang wetlands, an important RAMSAR protected breeding ground for migratory birds. And the river itself is home to pods of dolphins as well as other marine wildlife.
Then a further breach occurred at the Orica plant at Port Botany in Sydney's southern suburbs.
And it's not confined to Orica.
Every year, more than two million tonnes of pollution are released into the air and water.
Every year, thousands of pollution breaches go unreported and unpenalised.
Every year, local communities are exposed to releases of toxic chemicals without their knowledge.
Our research has revealed that hundreds of facilities across the state are routinely breaching their pollution licences, with little or no enforcement response by the regulator.
The government response
Is hexavalent chromium dangerous?
Hexavalent chromium is highly toxic. Breathing it in can damage and irritate your nose, throat, lungs, stomach and intestines.
It may lead to asthma and other allergic reactions. Exposure can cause stomach ulcers, convulsions, kidney and liver damage. Long term exposure to airborne hexavalent chromium can affect the respiratory and immune systems and is a known carcinogen.
Skin contact with hexavalent chromium can cause skin ulcers, redness and swelling.
It's not a chemical to be trifled with.
It can also have an acute toxic effect on plants and animals. As it doesn't break down or degrade easily, there's a high potential for accumulation in fish life.
Following our calls for a wider examination of pollution control in NSW, the government has announced mandatory environmental audits of 42 ‘major hazard facilities’ across the state.
But here's the catch: the location of these 42 facilities has been kept secret, supposedly for ‘security’ reasons.
That means that the general public, people like you and I, are not allowed to know if there are toxic and potentially carcinogenic chemicals being released in our own backyard.
We won't even know, in many cases, that pollution leaks have occurred, denying us the right to make choices or protect ourselves, our families and the environment.
In Victoria, information about major hazard facilities is freely available to the public. And so it should be in New South Wales.
Historically, most important advances in pollution control have taken place in the wake of toxic industrial accidents. It is vitally important that we do not miss this opportunity to secure real reform, to protect the natural environment and to protect local communities like Stockton.
In October the NSW Parliament launched a public inquiry into the incidents at Orica.
The Parliamentary inquiry, combined with the intense media interest, has opened up a narrow window of opportunity. That's why it is so important to act now.