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About this website

SydWalker.Info is a personal website. I live in tropical Australia near Cairns. I oppose war, plutocracy, injustice, sectarian supremacism and apartheid. I support urgent action to achieve genuine sustainability and a fair and prosperous society for all. I rely upon - and support - free speech as defined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (see below).

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"Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers"

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More about Pesticides in the Barron River
Mar 28th, 2008 by Syd Walker

Following the howls of anonymous outrage that followed my earlier article on this topic, after it was republished on CairnsBlog, I was lucky to have a chance to speak with someone who actually knows what he’s talking about.

Yesterday I had a phone conversation with Dr Jon Brodie, a water quality scientist based at James Cook University in Cairns. In what follows, I have tried to combine his information with my own commentary. Any errors in interpretation are my responsibility.

A knowledgeable man, Brodie has worked for more than a quarter century researching water quality issues. He has a grasp of what information on this topic is – and isn’t – available in FNQ.

Brodie was not effusive, but he was not reticent either. He was willing to answer questions and to mention relevant work undertaken by others.

I asked him quite specific questions about pesticide levels, possible conseqences, techniques for removing pesticides from drinking water, water quality guidelines and new work in the offing.

It appears there isn’t any data about pesticide concentrations in the Barron River – not in the public domain, at any rate.

Brodie believes the Barron is likely to contain traces of a wide range of pesticides, reflecting the diversity of cropping and other land uses in the catchment.

Organochlorines were banned in 1987. The newer generation of pesticides tend to be more short-lived, with half-lives in the order of one year. Some breakdown products, however, are also toxic and have their own breakdown pathways. The combined effects of different chemicals in this complex brew are another unknown.

Will Val Schier Poison Cairns?
Mar 21st, 2008 by Syd Walker

There, I thought that’d get someone’s attention.

What’s this crazy guy talking about?

Why would the newly elected Mayor of Cairns Regional Council, with a mandate for greener and more humane policies, risk the health of the Cairns population by giving them potentially toxic water to drink?

I hope she won’t, and that’s good news for Kuranda.

It would mean that at long last, someone in government may test the Barron River for pesticides and other toxic chemicals – and make the data public.

I’ll explain. On commercial talkback radio last week, several days after her election, the new Mayor was asked a question about expanding Cairns’ water supply.

In her reply, Val Schier enthused about proposals to divert some of the Barron River flow – presumably from the lower Barron – for use in Cairns.

I wonder if she has ever inquired what is poured into the Barron catchment, year in, year out, by the tablelands farming community? I wonder if she has any handle on rumours of toxic leaching from Mareeba landfills?

I wonder if Val Schier – like Friends of the Earth Kuranda – has ever asked State Government representatives detailed questions about Barron River water quality. FoE Kuranda was fobbed off with evasive waffle. How did she go?

Without real data on this, Mayor Schier is very unwise to pledge Barron water to her thirsty residents.

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