Dump making people sick: activist

Patricia Petersen in a protective suit and mask addresses a small gathering to discuss their concerns about the impact of the expansion of the New Chum dump.
Patricia Petersen in a protective suit and mask addresses a small gathering to discuss their concerns about the impact of the expansion of the New Chum dump. Claudia Baxter

POLITICAL activist Patricia Petersen has claimed "everyone in Riverview is sick" because of Ipswich industrial developments including the New Chum dump, but fewer than 30 people attended her protest meeting on Saturday.

As she opened the meeting at Riverview Neighbourhood House, Dr Petersen wore a protective suit, mask and booties that she said shielded her from toxic waste.

"To be honest I was expecting many more people," she said.

Dr Petersen spoke about the gas-fired Swanbank power station and said more stations could be built soon.

She also said a coal seam gas company spokesman admitted gas in pipes that ran under Ipswich was "probably going to leach into our drinking water", but could not attribute the source.

Before moving on to the topic of the New Chum dump, Dr Petersen implied the previous issues were teasers for her audience.

"This is kind of like political foreplay, getting you ready for the big event," she said.

Dr Petersen said she coughed up blood after conducting a leaflet drop in New Chum, and said many people had reported health problems and even a miscarriage to her.

She said those people were not at the meeting.

Dr Petersen said she had met with Shine Lawyers to begin a class action for people affected by the developments.

She encouraged attendees to fill out a form that asked them to indicate whether they suffered from health problems including cancers, psychiatric conditions, coughing up blood, and reproductive problems.

It also allowed people to indicate whether they had children with birth defects or had experienced foetal mortalities.

The form asked people to note the "direction the wind is coming, when you feel worst".

Councillor Victor Attwood condemned Dr Petersen's meeting as being misleading.

"It's immoral and unethical for someone with her education to go around and scare people like that," he said. "I've not heard any complaints about the health problems she has mentioned."

Cr Attwood said the New Chum dump was managed according to environmental guidelines set by the State Government.

Jim Dodrill, president of IRATE (Ipswich Residents Against Toxic Environments), said Dr Petersen was not a member.

He said IRATE's meeting on August 25 would be based on facts.

Topics:  activist coal seam gas environment new chum dump patricia petersen riverview

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