Water fluoridation sparks protest

A SMALL but determined group of Bellingen Shire residents staged a peaceful sit-in outside the council chambers yesterday to voice, yet again, public opposition to the fluoridation of shire's water supplies.

Health and choice were the issues. Lavanya Lak'ech said she considered fluoride to be a toxic drug and wanted to have a choice about what went into the water she drank.

"Fluoride tablets can be purchased, there is no need to add it to the water," Ms Lak'ech said.

For Sue McIntosh, having read both sides of the argument, she felt the negatives outweighed the positives for people's health.

Others were frustrated that the council had passed the final decision on to NSW Health in 2004.

Representatives then took a petition into councillors attending their monthly meeting.

They requested a referendum at the September Council elections asking whether residents wanted fluoridation to continue or if a legal challenge to the current position should be investigated.

Under the Fluoridation and Public Water Supplies Act 1957, once directed to add fluoride to the public water supply, contravention carries a penalty.

Penalties could be in the order of $5500 for an offence or up to $550 per day for a continuing offence.

The petition also called for an education program to alert those most vulnerable, such as bottle-fed infants and those with organ or bone weaknesses, and requested the council make suitable filtration systems available over the counter for those vulnerable to fluoride.

The building of the fluoridation plants in Dorrigo and Bellingen is scheduled to begin in August. with completion expected by December.

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