Facebook group gains traction

EXPOSURE: The dust-flare up on December 27 caused outrage among local residents. Photo: Venessa Blinman.
EXPOSURE: The dust-flare up on December 27 caused outrage among local residents. Photo: Venessa Blinman.

In a show of unity, a group of fed-up residents have formed an online Facebook group to enact change within the community.

The newly formed ‘Dust Busters’ have big plans to ensure a full resolution of the environmental and health impacts caused by 60 years of coal fired power generation in the town of Port Augusta. 

Led by a charge of passionate local residents, the group aim to make their collective voice heard as they demand action from state politicians.

“It is totally unacceptable that the government just expects us to tolerate these dust events,” group member Nicolette Fitzgerald said on the back of the December 27 flare-up.

“The community is outraged that this is now the second Summer we have been subjected to large amounts of dust blowing directly off the power station site and into the air we breathe.”

The Dust Busters first order of business is lobbying the Minister for Health, Peter Malinauskas, to immediately require the site owners to apply dust suppressant to the site.

They are currently circulating a petition and a health survey in order to gather data about the potential health impacts of prolonged dust exposure.

“We know dust suppressant is only a temporary stop, but it keeps our lungs safe and buys time to establish a long term solution that works,” Ms Fitzgerald said.

Local GP Doctor Amanda Bethell is also on board saying that “the World Health Organization clearly states that exposure to large amounts of dust inhalation negatively affects both your short and long term health.”

Mayor Sam Johnson commended the group, but was disappointed that it had come to this.

“I give credit to the group of like-minded community people who have come together to actually take some action on it and illustrate that yeah we are in an election period and we intend to capitalise on that,” Mr Johnson said.  

“It seems like we have to fight for everything, we shouldn’t have to fight to live in a healthy environment.

“It just seems to be the current norm, whether it be in Port Augusta or any other regional location we have to fight for what is just expected and taken for granted in metropolitan areas. It is a really, really sad state of times in regional South Australia.”

In the event of another dust flare-up, the group is calling on the community to jump in their vehicle to participate in a peaceful procession to be held the day immediately following any future incident.

Starting at 1pm from the Stirling North Progress Association, the protest will proceed slowly along the highway, across the Joy Baluch Bridge and end on the west side of town.