BLAST AWAY: Extech have been approved by Southern Downs Regional Council to conduct explosive disposal blasts   at Karara.
BLAST AWAY: Extech have been approved by Southern Downs Regional Council to conduct explosive disposal blasts at Karara. Contributed

'Hysteria' up over Karara explosives

THOSE in support of the Karara explosives disposal site say concerns come down to 'unfounded hysteria'.

Bill Long, 74, lives with his daughter in Railway St, about 3km from Belinda Marriage and Tim Rudduck's Waraghai Rd farm.

"The people at Extech are the most obliging people you've ever met, and they've been around for a couple of years and stay at the hotel and spend money in the area," Mr Long said.

"We haven't really noticed the explosions and I used to live at Mt Isa where there were huge underground explosions that would shake the house going off twice a day, every day."

Jennifer McClenahan has run the Karara Tavern and Motel with her partner Peter Raddatz for the past two and a half years.

She said life on the farms surrounding the Extech would continue relatively undisturbed.

"It seems that there is a level of hysteria building that is very lopsided and has no foundation in actual facts never mind the thoughts, feeling and concerns of the wider community," Ms McClenahan said.

"The property which is the proposed site is owned by the most respected family in the community.

"The proposed experiments will have little or no impact on day-to-day life and once the hysteria has settled will more than likely continue on unnoticed."

Mr Long said the Southern Downs needed jobs to sustain the region.

"We want jobs and council is trying to do something about it here but people won't let them, and council can be very tough," he said.

"If we don't hurry up and rally around, this district is going to die."

Southern Downs Regional Council insisted Extech operations were approved following stringent consideration.

Mayor Tracy Dobie said the report presented to the council when the development application was tabled and ultimately endorsed on July 26 addressed potential environmental impacts.

Cr Dobie said the operation would not negatively impact on the rural zoned land in the Karara area, including the property, owned by Bruce and Angela McLeish, that Extech would conduct their operations on.

Extech will be required to report complaints to SDRC and carry out testing when requested.

"The complaints handling process we have set out in the conditions is consistent with council policy for handling complaints," Cr Dobie said.

"Council has set out its conditions and Extech has a period of 20 days to accept them.

"The council remains very focussed on business development and we will look at all development applications that come to us."

READ the concerns from Belinda Marriage and Tim Rudduck here.


Company hits back at 'unfounded' worry

The company behind the first explosives disposal site in Queensland say it was made to "jump through hoops" to get its development approved.

Extech technical services manager Lee Hayter said concerns about water contamination and fears about the impact of blasting at Karara were unfounded.

Mr Hayter said the property is some 4km from the site where Extech will conduct their explosives disposal activity, further than the 2.6km quoted by neighbour Belinda Marriage.

He said the issue was turning into an "emotional and almost hysterical" media frenzy both in the press and on Facebook.

"We want to have calm debate and stick with the facts and the fact is we have complied with the law and have done everything the council has asked of us, which we have found to be reasonable and stringent," Mr Hayter said.

"We're not even putting a building on the site and because we are quite small- scale we weren't required to submit an impact statement; had we been contaminating waterways or near an airport we would have."

Mr Hayter said there was no evidence of Extech contaminating waterways.

"We're not cowboys," he said. "Despite the hysteria, council ultimately chose to approve the application.

"We will look at what the council has put in front of us and comply with the conditions set out.

"We just want to go about our business and we are certainly not trying to contaminate anything or interfere with anyone's business."

SDRC approves 'knocked back' facility

The explosives disposal site set to operate on the Southern Downs was previously refused by a neighbouring council.

Goondiwindi Regional Council rejected an application to build the facility in February 2015 because long-term air, vibration and noise impacts on the surrounding area could not be made.

GRC further stated the proposed development at Cement Mills, first lodged in 2014, was in conflict with its planning scheme.

"The refusal of the development application is warranted in that it is considered the use would be more appropriately located with a great separation distance from public infrastructure and existing sensitive land uses," the report read.

"The applicant has acknowledged there may be risks to public health and safety on Hunters Hill Rd.

"The proposed development site and parts of the access road are mapped as medium bushfire hazard; it is considered the development involved increased risk to people and property in this location as it could cause a fire from the detonation of explosives."

Southern Downs Regional Council has approved the Extech facility at Karara subject to strict conditions.

The maximum amount of explosive materials to be on the site at any time is 1000kg though only as much as 300kg may be detonated at once.

Blasts will occur up to four times a day for a maximum of six days each month, from 8am-5pm on weekdays.

Extech will be required to notify by email all neighbours within a 5km radius a minimum of 48 hours prior to each blast.

Dated records of each blast must be kept, including time, volume/mass and material type of each disposal; cloud cover, temperature, windspeed and direction, noise level and direction measured.

When requested by SDRC, investigations into any complaints of environmental nuisance or harm must be carried out.

Test results are to be provided to the council within 10 business days once completed.

A bushfire management plan is to be submitted to the council for approval

by the director of planning and environment prior to further blasts and Extech must have a site-based management plan to prevent harm or nuisance.

Councillor absent from controversial vote

Southern Downs Residents Action Group has called into question councillor absences at meetings after the Extech development application divided Southern Downs Regional councillors.

Councillors Neil Meiklejohn, Rod Kelly, Mayor Tracy Dobie and deputy mayor Jo McNally all supported the approval when it was tabled last month, while Crs Vic Pennisi, Sheryl Windle, Marika McNichol and Yve Stocks voted against the decision.

Cr Cameron Gow was absent from the meeting, but the council approved the application, with the mayor using her casting vote.

Cr Dobie was also the decider in the 4-4 vote to approve the removal of the Town Hall car park toilet block when Cr McNally was absent in May.

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