Yurruunn.Ga waterbird survey
Wyn and I undertake a regular survey of waterbirds at this new remediated wetland. Antimony processing poisoned this site and the forest of Swamp Paperbarks.
Not much to report (with so much water about the ducks have dispersed): 2 ducks, 10 Coots, 1 Swan, 2 wood ducks. 8~05 am, 5% cloud cover, 10 degrees.
Until recently, this was a toxic dead zone saturated in poisons – including:
1. Antimony: Exposure causes respiratory irritation, inflammation of the lungs, chronic bronchitis, chronic emphysema, pneumoconiosis, gastrointestinal symptoms. In addition, antimony trioxide is possibly carcinogenic to humans.
2. Arsenic: Initial reactions are nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and severe diarrhea then encephalopathy and peripheral neuropathy. Causes diabetes, heart disease, and neurotoxicity. Arsenic is a well-documented human carcinogen affecting numerous organs including: bladder; blood; digestive system; liver; lungs; lymphatic system; kidneys; prostate; skin.
3. Lead: Repeated lead exposure leads to: abdominal pain; abdominal cramps; aggressive behavior; constipation; sleep problems; headaches; irritability; developmental delay and learning difficulties in children; loss of appetite; fatigue; high blood pressure; numbness or tingling in the extremities; memory loss; headaches; anemia; kidney dysfunction; high blood pressure; hearing loss; seizures.
4. Mercury: Produces muscle weakness, poor coordination, numbness in the hands and feet, skin rashes, anxiety, memory problems, trouble speaking, trouble hearing or trouble seeing, and tremors.
5. Cyanide: Symptoms include: dizziness; headaches; nausea and vomiting; rapid breathing; rapid heart rate; restlessness; weakness; convulsions; loss of consciousness; low blood pressure; lung injury; slow heart rate; respiratory failure leading to death.
6. Cresylic acid: Animal studies have reported that the acid effects the blood, liver, kidneys and central nervous system, and may act as a tumour promotor.
‘Without hope, the world around us will certainly collapse, and while we might then become something else, we will no longer be the species of animal that has brought us to the brink of extinction. At this point hope is not a word that resonates for me.’ Barry Lopez
7. So the poison has been cleaned up. Tonnes of waste are buried beneath a series of membranes on the hill above.
But ‘Each year we generate 72 billion tonnes of minerals, metals and materials; up to 100 billion tonnes of rock, soil, tailings, overburden and slags from mining; and lose 75 billion tonnes of topsoil, mainly from farming and development . . .
Earth, and all life on it, are being saturated with anthropogenic chemicals and wastes in an event unlike anything in the previous four billion years of our planet’s story. Each moment of our lives, from conception to death, we are exposed to thousands of substances, some lethal, many toxic, and most of them unknown in their effects on our health or on the natural world.’