A storm of protest has broken out over a proposal to build a waste incinerator which would vent toxic fumes over Matraville and the surrounding area.

Local politicians, businesses and residents – some of whose homes are less than 150 metres from the planned incinerator site – are fuming over the proposal, which bypasses the local government approval process.
The plan is to build the $220M incinerator on the Matraville site of the Opal (formerly ORORA) paper recycling plant off Botany Road. Opal’s partner in the deal is Suez Recycling and Recovery. They want to build a 65 metre high smoke stack to disperse the fumes.

Opposition to the proposal is being organised by the Matraville Precinct and led by chemical engineer, Chris Hanson, who started the No More Toxic Incinerators pages on Facebook and Twitter, along with a dedicated web page.

Chris said the incinerator would provide steam for Opal’s paper mill by burning 165,000 tonnes of “non-recyclable” waste each year – 35,000 tonnes of which will contain PVC, which creates highly toxic pollutants such as dioxins when burnt. “The pollutants include large quantities of nanoparticles, that can’t be completely filtered out of the stack gases which would be dispersed by the prevailing winds throughout the Randwick City area,” he said. “There will be a build-up of dioxins, furans and other Persistent Organic Pollutants or POPs in the environment.” 

He said the plan was not only a danger to public health, but did not make economic sense. “Waste incineration is the most polluting and expensive way to make energy,” Chris said. 

Chris led a community protest outside the former CBA offices in Matraville, which will shortly become a pop-up shop where Opal and Suez will try to sell the incinerator scheme to locals. Wearing “No Matraville Incinerator” T-shirts, protestors brandished freshly-printed posters and a diagram showing where the toxic plume will go.

Randwick City’s Mayor, Danny Said, who also attended the protest, said: “There are absolutely no community benefits. This area has copped more than its share of industrial pollution for decades. Enough is enough!”

Member for Kingsford Smith, Matt Thistlethwaite, agreed. He said: “The Port Botany area is one of the most polluted areas of the country and we don’t need any more damaging emissions spewing over our community.” 

Former Mayor and local pharmacist Noel D’Souza said the waste burned by the incinerator would be a toxic cocktail of ingredients including disposable nappies, polystyrene foam, syringes and medical waste. “This incinerator is a threat to air quality for the people of Sydney generally,” he said. “The diffused gases and pollutants know no borders and these pollutant gases and irritants will become a health hazard for all.”

Young mother Rebecca Vinny lives 130 metres from the proposed incinerator site. “It’s insane,” she said. “I have three children and the harmful health effects of this kind of pollution might not show up for years. And what about property prices? How are you going to sell your one and a half million dollar house when it’s next to a toxic incinerator?”

By: Tony Maguire - Eastern Suburbs Life