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Call for clean up of wartime ammunition at industrial wind development site  

Credit:  Tablelands Wind Action, 7 July 2011 ~~

A new problem has surfaced at the proposed Mt Emerald Wind Farm site near Walkamin and residents are calling on the developers to take it very seriously.

The Tablelands Wind Turbine Action group has reported that Allied and Australian troops stationed on the Atherton Tablelands during World War Two used the site for target practice.

Spokesperson Volker Schwerdtfeger said older residents recall thousands of rounds of live shells and mortars being fired into the mountains west of Walkamin as part of the training of inexperienced soldiers and gunners.

He said the 24 square kilometre site proposed for Mt Emerald Wind farm is marked on Department of Defence maps as “having substantial potential for Unexploded Ordnance”.

“I became very concerned when I discovered the presence of unexploded ordnance,” Mr Schwerdtfeger said. “Even now I can recall the many injuries in post-war Germany due to unexploded bombs and grenades. Children and workers were maimed and killed in fields and on building sites. To this day it is a worldwide problem and a legacy of past conflicts.”

Demonstrating his level of concern, Mr Schwerdtfeger attempted to make Tablelands Regional Council representatives aware of the situation on Tuesday (July 25) when they visited the site.

“It is a fact that not all rounds will explode on impact and they can stay there dormant for many years, becoming more unstable as time passes. The unexploded ammunition can be found on or below the ground’s surface, so they will not always be visible, which makes them even more dangerous.

“With the major redevelopment of the site for an industrial wind ‘farm’, there will be over 100 workers excavating access roads, preparing turbine foundations and other earthworks. This presents a huge risk to machinery operators and other workers on the site.

“In addition a tourist centre is intended for the site and the developers expect many visitors, including school groups.”

Unexploded ordnance is considered a contaminant under the Environmental Protection Act 1994.

The Department of Defence recommends that any rezoning or development should only proceed following detailed investigation and remediation of the site by professional contractors.

“Already many consultants have traversed the site to do specific studies required for the development application,” Mr Schwerdtfeger said. “We hope that Transfield Services and Port Bajool made them aware of the dangers hidden on the site.

“We sincerely hope they take their responsibilities as land owners very seriously and remediate the site as a matter of urgency to prevent any possible injury to contractors.”

Ends

For more information please contact Volker Schwerdtfeger on (07) 4093 4392.

Source:  Tablelands Wind Action, 7 July 2011

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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