WHEN the BHP steelworks closed, one of the most common predictions was of a Mayfield renaissance.
Relieved of the burden of air pollution from the smoking giant next door, the suburb would bloom as newcomers rediscovered its vibrant shopping strip and modest but character-filled residential streets, some pundits tipped. That prediction has been only partially fulfilled.
The suburb has a great deal more residential amenity than many of the new brick-veneer satellite settlements on the fringes of Newcastle and Lake Macquarie.
But if Mayfield hasn’t experienced the great rebirth many had expected, one explanation might be that one big source of pollution appears to have been replaced by a number of smaller ones.
According to the authoritative government website, the National Pollutant Inventory, the 2304 postcode that includes Mayfield, Warabrook, Sandgate and Kooragang Island has experienced a surge in some pollutants over the past decade.
Inventory statistics indicate that the number of pollution-generating industries in the area increased from nine to 16 between 2001 and 2011. The number of officially reported pollutants from those sites increased from 35 to 38.
Ammonia emissions grew 188 per cent, benzene 600 per cent, sulphur dioxide 312 per cent and carbon monoxide 6 per cent, with most of this increase attributed to industries on Kooragang Island.
After last year’s highly publicised malfunctions of the Orica fertiliser plant on Kooragang, the state government introduced tough new pollution control measures and there is evidence that these will soon result in lower emissions of some pollutants.
That’s good news, but residents of the affected suburbs are rightly calling for a smarter approach to applications by companies to build new industrial plants in the area. Instead of considering each application in isolation, it is argued, approval authorities should examine every proposal against a backdrop of the existing environment.
It’s a similar argument to that mounted by Upper Hunter residents who have long wished for the cumulative effects of coalmines to be considered when new mining proposals are received.
So far the idea appears to have been too hard for the government to embrace, but that’s no reason for residents to stop demanding a smarter approach to industry regulation.
IT seems hardly possible that the Bali terrorist bombing that killed 202 people, including 88 Australians, could have been 10 years ago.
The memory seems too raw and painful to already have aged a decade.
But while the pain remains, much healing has been done. Many people who were caught up in the tragedy have worked with great determination to ensure that those who perished are remembered and that the terror of the day is balanced by compassion and kindness.
That’s the best answer, in the end, to those who sow hatred and violence.