Update 08/6/10

Restored original post.

Update 14/1/10

The notes from the recent community meeting are available from the Lilydale Quarry Unimin Community website which can be found HERE. The overburden dump has started to expand and the sprinkler system used to suppress the dust appears to be failing as evident in the following pictures.

Update 02/1/10 original Dec 13th 2007

I have been living in the Lilydale Lakeview region, (Victoria, Australia) for a while now with my wife and son and our biggest concern at the moment is the never ending battle with typical hay fever like symptoms.

The obvious cause of the problem is the incredible amount of dust in this estate and surrounding areas, all of which seem to originate the Lilydale quarry.

The whole family suffers varying degrees of watery eyes, sneezing and now itchy skin and is starting to become more than a nuisance. My Son seems to have a constant cold and is very susceptible to related infections.  Update: He recently had his tonsils and adenoids removed because of sleep apnea due to enlarged tonsils and now we find out there is a direct correlation between Crystalline Silica, hydrated lime and abnormal respiratory illness.

My Son grew up in this area and I really hope his enlarged Adenoids and Tonsils were not a result of the Dust – It scares me to be honest as we have now removed his only defense to it.  The effect this environmental issue is having on our babies, sons and daughters needs to be addressed.  The effects on Adult males are known in regards to Crystalline Silica, but new research on infants and developing adolescents is disturbing to say the least.

After a trip interstate, all our Hey fever Like symptoms vanished which led me to some quick googling and local research.

According to Unimin, Dust is collected in dust gauges around the site boundary and is analysed to determine if environmental emissions are within acceptable limits, but what if you are a resident in direct line of site of the Quarry?

When we first moved into our house the Quarry was not even visible, but due to the aptly called overburden, the Quarry is also now an eye sore. Pictures speak a thousand words in this regard, the following images were all roughly taken from the same spot.

Quarry Pictures from the Lakeview side of the Estate.

    Unimin has setup a community based website here: http://www.uniminccc.org.au/

    The Unimin Community Consultative Committee, or CCC, has been established as a forum where the local community can be informed of current and future plans for the quarry and plant.

    The CCC web site contains information such as meeting minutes, presentations and agendas, photographs, details on future meetings or events and some background data on Unimin and its products.

    Lilydale Quarry is owned by the Victorian subsidiary of of US based Unimin, Unimin Lime.

    Lilydale quarry products:

    lilquprod.gif

    The MSDS sheets regarding Lilydale Quarry raw products go a long way in explaining our current health issues and it will be interesting how many others are affected in this area.

    Of Note, is the fact Limil is classified as hazardous according to the criteria of NOHSC (Worksafe Australia).

    I know the quarry was located here long before any housing estates were established but surely any health and environmental impact upon humans would have been researched fully prior to any sort of development?

    Yarra Ranges Shire Public Amenity Local Law 2001

    The Yarra Ranges Shire has also been ignorant in upholding it own laws in regards to the 2001 Public Amenity Local Law.

    The objectives of this Local Law are to:

    • Promote a physical and social environment free from hazards to health, in which the residents of and visitors to the municipal district can enjoy a quality of life that meets the general expectations of the community;
    • Protect and promote access, safety and amenity within the municipal district;
    • Regulate and control activities within the municipal district that may be dangerous, unsafe or detrimental to the environment or to the quality of life of persons residing in or visiting the municipal district;
    • Provide for the peace, order and good government of the municipal district.

    Quote: Unsightly Land and Land kept in a Dangerous Manner

    For the purpose of Clause 8 of the Local Law, land or premises visible from an adjoining land or road shall be deemed:

    • a) Unsightly if there is present on the land or premises a substantial amount of rubbish, building materials, excavation materials, derelict car bodies & vehicles, vehicle parts, tyres or disused fittings or equipment.
    • b) Detrimental to the amenity of the area in which it is located if: the land is unsightly; there is on the land any building or structure which is incomplete and impacts on the visual amenity of the area; and
    • c) Dangerous if: by reasons of the manner in which the property is maintained or goods are stored on it poses any risk to the public.

    Irony in its finest form as the Yarra Ranges Shire has completely failed to act on behalf of its residents and followed its own legal guidelines.

    Download The Amenity Local Law here.

    Some links:

    Is Limil or hydrated lime dangerous?

    Repeated exposure to the dust may result in increased nasal and respiratory secretions and coughing. Inflammation of lining tissue of the respiratory system may follow repeated exposure to high levels of dust with increased risk of bronchitis and pneumonia. Pre-existing upper respiratory and lung diseases including asthma and bronchitis may be aggravated.
    The product contains a proportion of respirable free crystalline silica. Long term occupational over-exposure or prolonged breathing-in (or inhalation) of crystalline silica dust at levels above the NES carries the risk of causing serious irreversible lung disease, including bronchitis, and silicosis (scarring of the lung), including acute and/or accelerated silicosis. It may also increase the risk of other irreversible and serious disorders including scleroderma (a disease affecting the skin, joints, blood vessels and internal organs) and other auto-immune disorders.
    Inhalation of dust, including crystalline silica dust, is considered by medical authorities to increase the risk of lung disease due to tobacco smoking.
    Crystalline silica (inhaled in the form of quartz or cristobalite from occupation sources) has been classified by The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as carcinogenic to humans (Group 1). However (in view of CCAA) the research on this is inconclusive and ASCC/NOHSC had not classified crystalline silica as a carcinogen.
    Current research indicates there is no excess risk of lung cancer or other cancers from using these products.
    Studies have shown that smoking increases the risk of bronchitis, silicosis and lung cancer in persons exposed to crystalline silica. Source 1

    What is Crystalline Silica and Silica Dust?

    Crystalline silica is a basic component of soil, sand, granite, and many other minerals. Quartz is the most common form of crystalline silica.
    Cristobalite and tridymite are two other forms of crystalline silica. All three forms may become respirable size particles when workers chip, cut, drill, or grind objects that contain crystalline silica.

    HEALTH AFFECTS OF SILICA DUST

    Initial exposure to silica dust will cause irritation of the eyes, nose and throat like most other dusts. However, if excessive amounts of silica dust are breathed into the lungs over a period of time, it can cause damage to the lung tissue. Other than some breathlessness during exercise, the disease can remain free of symptoms for 10-20 years after exposure.

    The most common form of silicosis develops after long exposure to relatively low concentrations. Once the disease has begun, it will progress slowly but relentlessly even if the worker is removed from further exposure. There is no medical treatment for silicosis. People with silicosis are also at greater risk of developing lung cancer. In 1996 the International Agency for Research on Cancer classified crystalline silica dust as a human carcinogen.

    Sources: OHSA.gov Silicosis.com UnionSafe