Living next to the mine’s a real blast

CADIA Road resident Gary Christou compares living alongside Cadia Valley Operations (CVO) to "being in jail 24 hours a day".

Mr Christou and his wife Judith have lived on their property Coorabin, two kilometres from Cadia's open cut mine, for 12 years.

For the past 12 months, Mr Christou has attempted to negotiate the purchase of his property by CVO because of environmental damage he believes the mine has caused.

“The answer I get from the company is the company will only purchase property if it’s in the interest of the company,” he said.

“Ten years down the track, despite issues of air pollution, noise pollution, traffic and blasting exceedance, nothing’s ever been done.”

Cracks in the kitchen floors, walls and ceilings, a sunken back patio and a one and a half centimetre dip in the property's roof are among the damage which has developed while the Christous have been in the home.

The property's gates and sheds have rusted and its one water supply, a creek, now has a permanent oil slick.

Documents and letters dating back several years show Mr Christou's attempts to determine how much of the damage was attributable to blasting and pollution from the mine.

An engineering assessment in 1999 found natural building movement or several seasons of drought were possible causes of minor cornice separation in one bedroom and the laundry and minor cracks above the kitchen, dining and hallway arches and rangehood. The same assessment found cracks in the verandah had been caused by incorrect construction but no further property damage was noted.

CVO requires conclusive data before it will agree to purchase a property due to environmental damage.

In 2002, the company installed a blasting monitor at Mr Christou's home but no blast has registered which would be considered to cause damage.

However, the Christous claim to have witnessed two blasts which were immediately followed by damage to the property.

One caused a crack in the kitchen ceiling, the other, last September's 3.3 earthquake caused by blasting at the mine, popped a ceiling light in the lounge room and created new cracks in the floors.

On both occasions the blasting monitor was switched off.

CVO has since reset the monitor to function 24 hours a day but has been unable to negotiate a further independent assessment of the Christous' home with Mr Christou.

Mr Christou refused an assessment in 2003 because the company chosen to carry out the assessment was contracted to CVO.

A list of conditions required him to sign a contract prior to the inspection to say he would not question the findings.

Mr Christou said it was possible some of the damage to Coorabin had been caused by the drought but not all.

“I know for sure that at least one of [the incidents] isn't because I was there when it happened,” he said.

“For the last two years, we've noticed the gates, which never had an ounce of corrosion on them, have become so rusted they're falling apart.

“The gradual build-up of traffic is creating an oil slick on top of the water.

“We don't feel safe here anymore."

Mr Christou said the mine and Cabonne Council had also failed to follow a 2004 Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources recommendation that a turning lane be installed in front of the property to improve the safety of the road.

The turning lane was instead constructed at the first entrance to the mine.

lisa.cox@ruralpress.com

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