FINDINGS of a new study which reveal Stockton is being exposed to toxic ammonium nitrate emissions have residents worried about long-term health implications.
A door-knock by the Herald on Thursday along Fullerton Street, which is across the river from Orica’s ammonium nitrate plant, revealed a range of emotions in reaction to an Environment Protection Authority study that found the plant contributes up to 40 per cent of fine particle air pollution in Stockton.
“I’m not real happy about it all,” Lyndall Turner said of the pollution.
“They keep saying that there’s nothing that comes over, but the amount of black dust we get over here is terrible.
“Some days it’s worse than others and you can even feel it in the air.”
Ms Turner said a mood of helplessness had started to sweep through the street.
“I’ve had friends that have rung up Orica to tell them about the dust, but all they (Orica) say is: it’s fine,” she said.
“Well, it’s not fine. This is the air we breathe.”
Ammonium nitrate is an odourless material and white in appearance.
It can be harmful if ingested and exposure to it can cause damage to the respiratory tract.
Resident Julie Lee said the EPA needed to explain what the risk to the community was.
“It’s not as bad as it used to be here, but this (findings of the new study) has surprised me,” she said.
“We do get the dust, but this is something you can’t smell, you can’t see and you don’t know what it’s doing to you.”
Mark Peace is new to the suburb and said the findings had also caught him by surprise.
“What are the long-term side effects? What are the potential dangers?” he asked.
Another resident, who did not wish to be named, said he knew the risks of living next to heavy industry when he bought in Stockton, but he also acknowledged that the suburb had become more densely populated.
“If we die due to Orica, we only have ourselves to blame,” he said.
“But I will say this: we owned a smash repair business and the EPA was all over us. It seems they let Orica get away with anything. If the residents are ever going to succeed, they need the pollies on their side.”
On Wednesday, Orica Kooragang Island site manager Scott Reid said the findings of the air quality study provided a benchmark for the site to make improvements.
“We understand and share the community’s desire for lower emissions in general. We have taken and are continuing to take very significant steps to play our part in this,” he said.