The Mayfield East Residents Group (MERG) has been active in opposing a Development Application (DA) from One Steel, a local steel producer, to have a new plastification plant opened in a residential area of Newcastle.
The new plant, which plans to coat steel wire in plastic is just metres away from the residential area, and will release the deadly poison benzene as part of the process. One Steel initially planned to release benzene into the local environment, via a smoke stack. Mayfield is a working class suburb recovering from the pollution of the BHP Steel works that closed in 1999, and the last thing it needed was a new pollution threat. Coal dust from the local Port Waratah Coal Loader still remains a major concern.
After a groundswell of community opposition One Steel have now stated that they will introduce a filter system to remove the benzene as it is produced, but as yet have not produced any details on how this will be implemented. MERG will continue to campaign to ensure that all the communities safety concerns are met. This includes the health and safety aspects for the One Steel workers as well as concerns about the storage of the plastic, independent monitoring of benzene and other possible toxic emissions as well as the safe disposal of any used benzene laden filters.
By Simon Raine, Socialist Party Newcastle