Parents continue push for testing on school grounds
AN official from the NSW Education Department has visited the Sandy Beach Public School following a protest about the potential health impacts from nearby intensive agriculture.
Concerned parents held the rally outside the school on March 13, calling for an assurance from the department the school was safe from any off-site impacts from nearby intensive agriculture.
"This is particularly so because of new scientific evidence from Southern Cross University, which shows that some farms are polluting beyond their boundaries," secretary of the United Residents Group of Emerald (URGE) Karla Gillies said.
Protesters have called on the education department to conduct testing at the school.
"We just want assurance. We don't even know if it is safe, or if it is an issue at the moment.
"We want the experts here to do the testing and that's the point - there just hasn't been any testing done here," Ms Gillies said.
The NSW Education Department has confirmed that a consultant from their Work Health and Safety Directorate visited the school on Monday 18 and prepared a risk management plan which is being implemented by the school.
"In addition to routine measures relating to food preparation and continuing contact with the community and Directorate, the plan includes reinforcing normal student hygiene advice about washing hands before eating, and reporting any perceived spray drift to the NSW Environment Protection Authority," a spokesperson said.
Ms Gillies is aware of the department visit and the risk management plan but is still at a loss as to why there hasn't been any plan put forward to actually test for spray drift or run-off in and around the school grounds.
"Asking staff to report any 'perceived' spray drift is a bit ridiculous, given they are not experts, and reporting it to the EPA, without any actual evidence is equally so.
"I would argue that if the drift or residue is such that the staff actually do notice it, then it's already too late," Ms Gillies said.
She has spoken with several parents who are also dissatisfied with this outcome and they will continue to push for a testing schedule in and around the school grounds.