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Danger ahead

Friday, 4th May, 2018

The view from inside the man's car of the Wentworth road yesterday. Note the oncoming vehicle with its headlights on. PICTURE: Supplied The view from inside the man's car of the Wentworth road yesterday. Note the oncoming vehicle with its headlights on. PICTURE: Supplied

By By Craig Brealey

The clouds of dust raised by the construction of the pipeline had made the Wentworth road dangerous for motorists, according to a Broken Hill man who says the work is being rushed. 

The man, who did not want his name published, said he often travelled to Mildura and that the hazard appeared as soon as the work began in Wentworth in February.

But since the laying of the pipe began at the Broken Hill end, it had become  worse and motorists were having to drive with their headlights on, he said. 

The pipeline is being run right next to the bitumen along the western side of the Silver City Highway and buried in trenches two metres deep for 270 kilometres.

“The pipeline to me is ‘yes, no, yes, no’ because I don’t think they are going to send any water down the river for us anymore,” the man told the BDT yesterday.

“But this pipeline is being done too quick and it’s not right and it’s dangerous.”

He said he was returning yesterday from Mildura and was about 75 kilometres from home when he took the accompanying photograph about 1.45pm.

“It’s the same all the way,” he said, “all the time, dust blowing across the road but today was especially bad with the wind. 

“I saw only one water truck in that last 70-odd kays until I got to the outskirts of town, just by that tourist sign.” 

The man said he drove to Mildura every couple of weeks for the trots and had noticed the rapid deterioration of conditions.

“I know other people, delivery drivers, and everyone is worried about it. I’m not the only one grizzling,” he said.

B-double trucks also travel that road, day and night, carrying ore from the mineral sand mines near Pooncarie.

“They’re building it right alongside the road, which is stupid,” the man said.

“The water trucks are spaced too far apart and they go back to Wentworth to get their water. By the time they get back, it’s all dried out.

“They’ve got graders, bulldozers and excavators moving all this loose dust. It’s become a hazard.” 

The Enviromental Protection Agency ought to investigate, given that the situation amounted to dust pollution creating a hazard, the man said.

“The EPA should have a look. I’ve worked on the mines and in quarries and if this was a mine I know there’d be big fines.

“I have nothing against the workers; they are just doing what they’re told.

“We wouldn’t have this problem if they did it a bit slower, a bit at a time over two years.

“But they’re rushing it, trying to do it all in one hit. 

“To me it’s a safety issue and someone could get killed.”

WaterNSW, which is having the $500 million pipeline built, said it was well aware of the problem with dust, especially with the drought.

“We have been running a ‘Please be aware and drive with care’ campaign, which includes local radio announcements and advertisements in the BDT about traffic management controls and safety management,” a spokeswoman said.

“Construction activity, along the with the current dry conditions across the region, have resulted in an increased presence of dust along the Silver City Highway.” 

The spokeswoman said water carts were being deployed at all construction sites to suppress dust, and electronic message boards and traffic control signs were being used “to advise road users of the potential for increased dust. 

“Traffic control vehicles... escort motorists through any dust-effected areas (and) dust monitoring equipment enables reporting to the Environmental Protection Agency. 

“Motorists are urged to take extra care on the Silver City Highway - allow extra time for delays and follow all posted speed limits and controls.”

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