Approximately 60 past and present participants of the Port Kembla Pollution Meeting came together on Saturday 10 September 2016 to celebrate 30 years of the forums operation.
The aim of the group is to work cooperatively to reduce levels of pollution that impact on the health or comfort of the community and representatives from the local community, industry and government have been meeting monthly over that long period.
The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has also been a regular attendee of the meeting since it started in 1986.
EPA Manager of the Illawarra region Peter Bloem first attended the meeting in 1992 as a junior environmental officer and continues to attend to the present day.
“This forum has dealt with many diverse and complex environmental issues, including air quality, some with no quick or easy solution.
“The meetings helped to promote awareness of pollution issues locally and improve access to information.
“To mark 30 years of operation is an exciting achievement for everyone involved, including people like Helen Hamilton, a community member who has covered every official role with the meeting, secretary and treasurer, and most frequently chairperson, over her 25 years involvement.”
“There was a time when I couldn’t hang washing on the line, now the difference is amazing,” said Helen.
“One of the key things that we have seen in the local area, which the meeting has worked towards, has been an improvement in local air quality.
“I became involved in the forum due to concern for my family and local schools. The smelter and the steelworks were our main focus, however other incidents and environmental impacts have also been considered, including taking action against local dumping of rubbish.”
“Over the years there has been a real team effort from everybody, being able to celebrate 30 years of achievements was very special.”
The EPA’s Peter Bloem said, “The dedication of those attending the meeting over the years has led to improvements in the local environment, helped challenge historical industrial stereotypes of the area and left a better legacy for future generations.”
The forum is currently run and chaired by representatives from the local community, with the meeting venue provided by NSW Ports.
Photo: Helen Hamilton and Olive Rodwell, members of the Port Kembla Pollution Meeting.