THE tragedy visited on Beirut is one that threatens Newcastle. Eight years ago I wrote to this paper, stating there have been about two dozen catastrophic explosions involving ammonium nitrate storage close to populated areas. Ten years ago 31 people were killed and over 2000 injured when 300 tonnes of ammonium nitrate exploded in France. But here, we permit Orica to store 3000 per cent more: 9000 tonnes.
The South Australian government refused approval for a housing development, citing the risk of explosion posed by storage of 200 tonnes of ammonium nitrate nearby.
But here, Incitec seems to think it has a chance to store 6250 per cent more: 12,500 tonnes, and that more or less in everybody's front yard. Both Incitec and Orica claim it is in the national interest not to release information we could use to accurately assess the risks and hazards of their operations ('Could it happen here', Newcastle Herald 6/8). In my opinion that is an admission that the storage is extremely hazardous, and could lead to catastrophic consequences.
The blast that destroyed Beirut was caused by 7000 tonnes. That's a third of what we store on Kooragang.
Niko Leka, Mayfield
Car costs outweigh the benefits
MILTON Caine (Letters, 5/8) makes a good case for owning a car in Newcastle. However, I believe that many families could consider getting rid of their second car with a minimum of inconvenience and be much better off financially.
I sold our second car about 10 years ago and with the help of a bicycle with panniers and lights I happily exist without it. On rare occasions where a second car is needed, car hire can be used.
A lot of people do not realise the cost of owning a motor vehicle. If you allow for depreciation and fixed costs such as registration and insurance, costs of car ownership is likely to exceed $5000 per year even before the costs of petrol and servicing.
The second car is also often parked on the street where it deteriorates faster due to exposure to the weather and, if sold, there is more street space available.
I do use public transport quite regularly, and with the use of the various transport apps available can get to a desired location by public transport but it does take longer. The main issue I have with bus routes in Newcastle is that routes between major centres are often not direct. For example, the route 14 bus from Newcastle CBD to Charlestown Square goes via The Junction primary school and Kotara and then more back streets before arriving at Charlestown.
Lloyd Davies, Stockton
Demand for clinics tests plans
HOW many times do we see and hear where COVID testing pop up stations have closed or are experiencing lengthy delays (Herald, 3/8)? Would it not be a sensible policy to plan well ahead to cope and cater for large numbers?
Select an area that is easy to access and to exit that won't affect roadways or pedestrian traffic, and have enough staff organised to handle unexpected personnel wanting to be tested because it is a good thing. No one should have to wait hours to be tested nor be turned away.
MORE LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:
The pop-up drive-through testing station at Warners Bay caused such a problem on Monday. People are concerned and scared, and full credit to those wishing to be tested and to the health workers for putting their hands up to operate these testing clinics.
To assist these people and expedite this process, please designate a more suitable location with abundant staffing. This will assist the testing process and increase output.
Graeme Kime, Cameron Park
Kids staying home is no crime
REGARDING Helen Gregory's story ("Police visit dad teaching kids at home", Herald 4/8): I think it is a disgusting state of affairs when a single dad can be dragged over the coals for taking a proactive approach when trying to protect his kids.
It is, however, what I expected. The police should never have been involved in this, in my opinion. I have nothing but respect for the father. How must he have felt when he opened the door to be confronted by law enforcement? The government's hypocrisy in this case is astounding.
I would really like to know how our already overworked teachers are going to socially distance a gaggle of school kids. The choice the government has now is simple; do they choose wealth before health or health before wealth?
Nick Ryder, Booragul
Bowled over by skate park plan
YOU are saying what many of us believe, John Fear (Letters, 5/8), regarding the skate bowl to be built on Newcastle South beach.
The community has registered their disapproval of this project and in the light of recent weather events it appears to be complete blindness to what is essential to this city from this Labor-dominated council.
I constantly receive a have your say email from our council and at first I did have my say, but what is the point? They aren't listening. In my opinion they are just paying lip service.
There are so many other worthy projects that $11 million would have benefited in our city, many of which have been on the back burner for years. I can think of several and I will bet that other readers can too.
Denise Lindus Trummel, Mayfield
Whitewash is heart of problem
JAMES Cook ruefully logged that he had "failed in discovering the so-much-talked-of southern continent" and that he would "steer to the westward until we fall in with the east coast of New Holland" which he knew existed. The great navigator never claimed any discovery.
For balance alongside plaques to Cook, and for history's sake, how about a plaque to Coorman, the first Aboriginal inhabitant to challenge the might of the British Empire and who was shot and wounded by Cook at Kurnell for trying to prevent him going ashore there? I anticipate the howling claims of PC gone mad from those who only like their history whitewashed.
John Arnold, Anna Bay
Plenty are seeking out favour
I REFER to Peter Dolan (Letters, 6/8). I found it astounding how he referred to other tax exempt entities and could only come up with the old trade unions example.
There are many more tax exempt organisations run by business that influence our governments. The biggest one would be the IPA, Institute of Public Affairs, a public policy think tank that was started by Menzies and Rupert Murdoch's father. The result of that is the Liberal Party of Australia. There are, of course, many tax exempt organisations that represent business and I think you would be surprised how many that do not represent the interests of the population.
If you want to take aim at unions, maybe you should spread the whole story, instead of showing the only one that is doing its best to look after the workers and families.
Glenn Jones, Weston
WHEN the state government thrust an ammonium nitrate storage facility on Kooragang ('Could it happen here?', Newcastle Herald 6/8) we were assured regulations and work practices would make operations safe. But is it? Clearly the blast zone includes the City of Newcastle and the tragedy in Lebanon indicates we are only one fire away from a disaster. With climate risks growing, I believe it's time to move and bury the whole shebang in a remote area.
Peter Stevens, Merewether
I HAD just, after a heap of effort, settled on the nice blue colour that most surgical masks seem to be, then I read the story from Dr. M. Walton (Letters, 4/8). Now with the cowboy reference I'm wondering whether black or white best suits. Must be a 1950s thing or too much Alan Ladd. Well, if Donald is betting on black I'm going all in on white. That's assuming we are still able to use colourful language.
Vic Davies, Tighes Hill
WELL said, Garry Robinson (Letters, 5/8). I agree with your comment, but it is a bit risky putting your opinion out there, you are going to cop it from the goodies. As for the ad, it is stupid. I have not known who the ad was for until you stated Menulog. Good ad for me to decide not to use Menulog
Kevin Miller, Windale
RESIDENTIAL aged care workers do an amazing job with little staff and few resources. In the event of a COVID-19 outbreak they do not have the staff or medical support to care for a large number of acutely ill residents. I believe any resident who tests positive should be transferred immediately to hospital where there is a much higher nurse to patient ratio and medical care available 24 hours a day. Their room should be deep cleaned in their absence. Residents are not prisoners. Any resident who tests negative should be able to stay with relatives until it is safe to return to the facility.
Susan Lodge, Ashtonfield
I FINALLY realised what COVID stands for: Citizens Of Victoria Ignoring Directions.
Charles Farley, Adamstown Heights
KUDOS to Brad Hill (Short Takes, 5/8) I think he has really nailed Scott Morrison's vision for Australia. I agree Australia is in danger of becoming an "unrecoverable abomination" under this government.
Mac Maguire, Charlestown
MY sincere apology to Greg Hunt (Short Takes, 5/8). I should have directed my comments about the high cost of nuclear power to John Cooper, Charlestown (Short Takes, 23/7). I got my transmission lines crossed.
Ray Peck, Hawthorn, Vic
OF all the dumb decisions made by our council south Newcastle skate park would make the final.
Bruce Cook, Adamstown
A SMILE does wonders, even miracles, unlike a permanent scowl.
Bryn Roberts, New Lambton
THE massive explosion in Beirut could never happen on Kooragang; not even when the new gas terminal is built