December 4 - 10, 2016: Issue 292

Neverfail Creek Polluted: Community Finds Council Response Completely Inadequate

Residents of Terrey Hills contacted us on Thursday and Friday very distressed about pollutants that have 'killed' Neverfail creek. One gentleman checking the creeks stating "the contaminant has now run further into Kierans Creek, well into the National Park, possibly killing the Crystal Pools life."

Neverfail Creek is the water that runs over the rock ledge on the track near Kinma School, flows down through the Dundundera Falls reserve, through the National Park and then into Cowan Waters. The children will be unable to play in or near the creek as a result, angering their parents. 

"Luckily we have the lovely Neverfail Creek running through the school - perfect for listening to, " Kinma has stated in the past, utilising the beautiful bush and creek areas as part of teaching through fun as recently as early November when Dennis, an indigenous elder of the land around here visited and told stories in the bush setting for some of the children. One of the stories told was a creation story about how the platypus came to be - perfectly set off beside the sound of that once clean warbling creek.

Kinma children have Neverfail creek music as part of their environment - photo courtesy Bea Pierce 

A manufacturer of hand made soap has apparently admitted liability; what the pollutant is has not been determined yet but is being analysed. 

Residents state the smell of the water would indicate it is some type of soap that has sucked all the oxygen out of the water. 

"Whatever it was it has killed all the wildlife. There are dead eels floating in the water. The once clear pools now smell like old bath water. The white scum is everywhere and is way below the falls and is just waiting to be flushed down the rest of the creek after the next heavy rains into the National Park.

They are worried further damage will be done during the rains slated by weather forecasters for this week.  

A HAZMAT team flushed the creek on Sunday November 27th when the white substance appeared and notified council. Terrey Hills residents are critical that council then had to be approached by two Streamwatch people on Wednesday for any action to be taken, one gentleman commenting, 

"Is this slack response from council the new norm for Terrey Hills?" and wondered how council will present facts or assess fines with EPA without making an assessment themselves or taking photographs, for the record.

On Friday December 2nd, Cecil Ellis, a gentleman who started a petition to get things happening prior to more damage occurring, reported, 

"Council arrived at 15:30! Minimal response. Two people. NSW Fire Rescue HAZMAT installed booms and removed contaminant from some pools. But the process appears to have been bought forward. 

More containment barriers will be placed downstream by various agencies over the weekend. Onsite meetings between Council and EPA are now happening on the weekend and not next week. 

Please go down the Neverfail Creek and have a look and ask questions. Be careful!! At the edge of the Creek the white contaminant is very slippery. The smell from the dead Eels and Crayfish is getting worse."

Streamwatch commented, "An ongoing unsatisfactory saga where grass roots determination by the community seems to be the only real action to date."

On Friday, a hot day, some of that grass roots determination was again in action as the locals ensured water dishes were placed where animals could get a clean drink. Something those that are furred and scaled and feathered who survived had not had for six days by then.

Later on Friday Mr. Ellis posted on facebook:

"Terrey Hills Community you've been amazing!! Many people visiting the scene today and expressing concern having seen the FB posts. Here's what we know from chats with Council. The pollution source and offender were identified on Sunday and followed with a HAZMAT response and handed back to Council for cleanup. This just wasn't happening and OEH AND EPA claimed Council had the issue in hand. Hence the petition - your signatures!! 

You the Terry Hills community has been fantastic putting out kiddy pools and dishes for birds, frogs and other animals to get aquatic refuge, when the creek was just wasn't up to it. Particularly Simon The Urban Handyman. Nice work Simon. Heart breaking to see so many dead Eels and Crayfish but we had a response from Council onsite today and an assurance that actions planned for next week have been bought forward to the weekend. 

                                                                                     Neverfail creek on Friday - photos courtesy Cecil Ellis
Finally your StreamWatch ladies Glenda and Sal who have for many days been chasing Council and assisting Fire And Rescue with local knowledge and water testing when Council just couldn't. Thanks for you support. Its' been a long day."

Neverfail Creek prior to being polluted - photo by Bea Pierce
                                                                                       Neverfail Creek prior to being polluted - photos by Bea Pierce