Gatton protest update: TMR denies retention pond botch-up


Transport and Main Roads told us that they didn’t build a toilet for truckies at the new $18m Gatton site because it would be a biohazard to the adjoining University of Queensland agriculture fields.

Campaigner Wes Walker, who is fighting to have that decision overturned, wants to know how they then explain the unlined retention pond he’s been watching fill up ever since he began his sit-in protest at the decoupling facility more than two weeks ago.

“That’s a bio disaster, that holding pond – they’ve forgotten to line it,” said Walker, who is now bringing in two donated portaloos from Lockyer Valley Waste Management each day as a stop-gap measure for our essential workers.

“It’s a big cock-up – there’s no way that’s not leaching into the university fields next door,” said Walker, a plasterer by trade who is now on a disability pension.

Walker said his contact at Lockyer Valley Waste Management told him it would cost an estimated $200,000 to fix it.

When Walker, 57, arrived on site today to continue his protest he sent us a series of supporting pictures, which included a pile of stormwater retention pond liners that had mysteriously appeared overnight.

Later that morning, he said a TMR representative arrived at the pads and told him that the liners had been mistakenly left there and were meant for another location.

“He told me there was nothing wrong with the ponds there.”

The threat, however, looked far from benign when viewed from above in a series of dramatic drone shots that Gotcha By Karl Photography also shared with Big Rigs.

This drone shot by Gotcha By Karl Photography shows just how close a section of the unlined pond is to the adjoining fields.

With the help of local Lockyer MP Jim McDonald, Walker said he’s now probing to find out who signed off on the contract to build the controversial facility which was finished with little industry consultation and has already had an 11th hour redesign to the entrance.

“I am going to start a civil court case for the breach of Work, Health and Safety requirements to have a toilet at every workplace,” said Walker, who has also organised a parliamentary petition in support of his Gatton protest.

TMR has been approached for comment on the pond lining issue, as has University of Queensland which appeared to be totally in the dark about what was going at the Gatton decoupling facility full-stop.

UPDATE 5.45PM: A TMR spokesperson tells us the contruction materials photographed above do not relate to the Gatton Heavy Vehicle Decoupling Facility (GHVDF) and do not demonstrate an inadequate system.

“The GHDVF has a water quality system to manage storage and treatment in line with the Biosecurity Site Management Plan,” the spokesperson said.

They said the rocks photographed are part of a mesh cage which is used for erosion control at the entrance to the water quality and overflow basins.

“These are being monitored and operating appropriately. The system includes the use of a water quality basin, which collects water running off the asphalt surface.

“Water is released from this basin by evaporation and infiltration.

TMR said the basin is lined with sand, which collects any oil or fuel spilled on the pad and allows the water to infiltrate into the soil.

“This basin is suitable for rainfall up to a one-in-200-year event. If it does overflow, the additional water running off the basin is clean as any debris on the site has been removed by earlier rainfall.”

The basin is monitored for debris and the sand will be replaced as required, they added.

“This basin is not lined with plastic, as that would impede the filtered water from soaking into the ground.”

The second basin is an overflow basin, which collects any rain that falls on the grassed areas within the site.

“Overflow from this basin is diverted to the nearby table drain.

“The water quality system is typical for a site such as this and was reviewed by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Lockyer Valley Regional Council and the University of Queensland during the project’s design phase.”

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