IN LIGHT of the proposed coal port developments at Balaclava Island, a short distance across the water from Keppel Bay, Pumpkin Island manager Laureth Craig shared her own experience of growing up in Richards Bay, South Africa at the KAFDA meeting in Emu Park on Thursday February 16.
A naturally large harbour servicing the country for hundreds of years Richards Bay was converted to a deep water harbour in 1976 with a railway and oil and gas pipeline linked to Johannesburg and is now one of the world's largest coal ports.
Setting the scene of a childhood in the once popular holiday destination that was plagued by bronchitis and pneumonia and beaches closed due to contamination Laureth said she didn't want to see the same happen to Keppel Bay
Only suffering lung issues which she attributes to coal dust on the odd occasion since leaving in 1999 she drew attention to state MP Vaughan Johnson's claim that coal dust is the new asbestos.
"Richards Bay is now the most polluted city in South Africa and decades of pollution have robbed the bay of its natural shoreline and decimated ounce bountiful fisheries,"
She explained that as soon as dredging started there was an increase in phosphorous and in 1997 tests found a profound increase in heavy metals.