Thursday, October 2, 2008

Two New Landslides and Bursting of Underground Spring.

Thursday, 2nd October, 2008.

With continuing blasting by the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) and Abigroup at and near Nerong (which is some 6 to 10 kilometres south of Bulahdelah and is not a part of the Bulahdelah 'upgrade' project) there have now been two landslides in one of the Alum Mountain's historic - and heritage listed - mining quarries.

An underground spring has also been caused to burst. This flooded the quarry and created a creek between the quarry and the 'top' car park. Although the water has now been pumped out, this has created a major mudslide hazard.

The following photographs were taken on 25th September, 2008:-

A section of the larger of the two landslides.

A section of the smaller of the two landslides.
The top of this landslide is only a few metres from walking-trail steps leading to the historic boiler site.

Rocks and boulders from the larger landslide now cover the pathway to the quarry.

This boulder came down with the smaller landslide.

Inside the quarry was completely flooded.

The water from the burst underground spring formed a creek which flowed from the quarry.

The creek flooded the 'top' car park and flowed down the mountainside, causing an extreme mudslide hazard.

And the RTA still intends to locate a new section of highway up to 25 metres deep into the western foot of the Alum Mountain - beneath the above!

And beneath cliffs from which boulders have been falling since the commencement of RTA, Abigroup blasting some 6 to 10 kilometres south of Bulahdelah!

Over a Quarter of a Kilometre of Landslide- and Rockfall-Prone Mountain is Above the Proposed Roadway.

An RTA document titled Specific Geotechnical Issues and dated June, 2008, claims in regard to ‘Risk of rock falling from [the] Alum Mountain’:

· Slope is not favourable to boulder [sic] falling to the road or township.

The above 3D depiction of the Alum Mountain is Figure 2, page 3 of Volume 7 of the RTA’s Bulahdelah Upgrading the Pacific Highway Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

The added X marks the approximate location of Bulahdelah Post Office. The post office is 10 metres above sea level. The mountain is 292 metres above sea level.

The added red lines are parts of Scott Street (which the RTA omitted from maps of the township throughout the EIS); MacKenzie Street, Church Street, Harold Street and Boolambayte Street.

The scribbled blue line over the foot of the mountain is the RTA’s portrayal of the six-lanes-plus-width Option E roadway which would be located in an excavation blasted and pile-driven to up to 24 (according to the EIS) or 25 (according to recent RTA statements) metres below current soil surface, through an existent landslide which has been documented by the RTA and beside/below another landslide which the RTA has chosen to ignore. It would also have over a quarter of a kilometre of mass movement- (landslides) and rockfall-prone mountain looming above it.

The entire above 3D figure from the EIS is facing in the wrong direction. (It was, of course, in relation to air – as in air flow/circulation from winds.) However, as the image shows, the Alum Mountain’s western foot extends all the way to the Myall River. All of Bulahdelah’s eastern residential area is located on the western foot of the mountain. This includes two schools which increase the population in that area by some 600 persons per day for over 1,200 hours each year.

This post initially published: 20th July, 2008.

Boulders Can Reach the Proposed Bulahdelah (Option E) Roadway

In regard to boulders which can readily be seen near the proposed roadway the RTA document Specific Geotechnical Issues (date: June, 2008) claims:

· Boulders that [sic] can be observed near the proposed road line are within colluvium.

And that’s meant to be a good thing? ‘Colluvium’ is the RTA’s term for the boulder-strewn ‘silty-clay-sand-gravel material’ of the ‘large scale’ landslide in which it is their intention to locate part of the Option E roadway.

In stating that boulders which travelled from the mountain’s cliffs to the area of the proposed roadway are ‘within colluvium’ the RTA seems to be implying that: they’re stable and were transported down the mountain in a landslide (instead of bouncing down independently).

The boulders which can be seen beside the power line track have been in their current locations for many years. (One has even attracted a nickname: Big Rock - and many people have been photographed sitting on it.) There is no question of instability regarding these or, for that matter, any of the many large boulders which, in years past, have travelled from the upper reaches of the mountain to its foot. No one who has seen these boulders and is in their right mind would give two hoots as to their current stability or whether their fall down the mountainside was dependent or independent. But they – and the boulder-strewn landslide area in which they are located – provide evidence that boulders have – and therefore can – reach the area of the proposed roadway.

This post initially published: 20th July, 2008.

The RTA's Treatment of Complaints about Boulder Falls

There have been extensive boulder falls from the forty metre high cliffs at the summit of the Alum Mountain since the commencement of blasting of the Karuah to Bulahdelah section of the Pacific Highway Upgrade at the village of Nerong, some 10 kilometres south of Bulahdelah.

As is the case with the mountain’s lower slopes, the summit is a heritage, research, tourism, and cultural area. It has been recorded by NSW State Forests as attracting thousands of visitors per annum and a car park, walking trails and two lookouts have been constructed for public use.

The RTA is dealing with the matter of these boulder falls in Communo-Fascist style: with blatantly preposterous lies.

In a letter dated 16th May, 2008, N.S.W. Parliamentary Secretary for Roads, Michael Daley M.P., claimed that ‘two geotechnical scientists and a geologist visited the mountain on Friday, 9th November, 2007’ and that they found ‘no evidence of the recent movement of large boulders’. The boulders, which are large chunks of rock from the mountain’s cliffs, shatter upon impact with the ground and the resultant fragments, some of which are also boulder-sized (i.e. over ten inches in diameter), discharge in all directions. They do not leave tracks along the ground. They do, however, smash and slice the trunks of trees and a section of the walking trail to the Ted Baker Lookout has been crushed. The trunk of a tree about a quarter of the way down the mountain road has been sliced in two places by boulder fragments. Further details, including photographs are at:

The Alum Mountain’s cliffs are porous. In his letter of 16th May, 2008, Michael Daley, Parliamentary Secretary for Roads, also stated that evidence of ‘minor rock falls’ had been found on Friday, 9th November, 2007 and: ‘Geotechnical staff attribute the falls to the recent rainfall over the past couple of months’. Yes, in the months prior to Michael Daley’s letter there was high rainfall - but there’s no way on this earth that rainfall which occurred in 2008 caused ‘rock falls’ in 2007. Michael Daley’s letter, however, provides written acknowledgement from the RTA that rain can cause rock falls on the Alum Mountain.
This post initially published: 20th July, 2008.

Risk of Rock Falling from the Alum Mountain's Cliffs onto Proposed Highway

The RTA document Specific Geotechnical Issues (date: June, 2008) claims in regard to ‘Risk of rock falling from [the] Alum Mountain’:

· No evidence of recent rock fall in the vicinity of the proposed road.

The RTA has been receiving complaints about boulder falls they are causing at the top of the mountain, not ‘rock fall in the vicinity of the proposed road’. However, as the proposed road would be almost directly beneath over a quarter of a kilometre of mountain with 40 metre high cliffs of porous rock where, the RTA has stated, rainfall can bring about rock falls, and there is more than ample evidence of the fact that boulders have been falling from the mountain’s cliffsand that those boulder falls are undermining huge sections of rockthe RTA’s statement that there is ‘no evidence of recent rock fall in the vicinity of the proposed road’ is not necessarily correct.
This post initially published: 20th July, 2008.

The RTA's Lie Regarding Commencement of Construction

In response to some of those who query or object to the use of ‘Option E’ for the Pacific Highway Upgrade at Bulahdelah the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) is currently claiming that construction has already commenced and that it is too late and would be too costly to divert to another option. That, as is the case with the vast majority of statements made by the RTA, is absolutely untrue.

It is pre-construction activities (‘early works’) which are taking place, not actual construction. This was admitted to the few community members who are prepared to meet with the RTA and their cohorts during current RTA-conducted meetings.

The first of said meetings was held on Wednesday, 28th May, this year (2008). The RTA’s notes of that meeting state that there was a ‘budget allocation of $15 million from the recently announced Federal Budget to continue with the early works for Bulahdelah’; also: ‘AusLink 2 commences in July, 2009 [two thousand and nine]. The RTA is hoping funding becomes available for the construction of the Bulahdelah project’.

Construction of the ‘Option E’ route at Bulahdelah has not yet commenced.

It is not too late to prevent the conglomeration of atrocities the RTA has planned for the Pacific Highway Upgrade, Bulahdelah.

It is not too late to have the Bulahdelah section of the Pacific Highway Upgrade diverted to a western route e.g. Option A which is documented by the RTA as being the safest route for road users (ref. the Value Management Workshop Report).

This post initially published: 23rd July, 2008.

The Escalating Blatancy of the RTA's Communo-Fascist Behaviour.

17th August, 2008.

The blatancy of the N.S.W. Roads and Traffic Authority’s (RTA) Communo-Fascist behaviour in Bulahdelah is escalating:-

· The relatively few community members attending RTA-conducted ‘community interest group’ meetings are expected to ask questions, not make statements.

· *Said community members have been instructed that their questions must be put in writing or telephoned to the RTA prior to meetings and threatened that, if they are not, they won’t be responded to.

· If recorded in RTA meeting ‘notes’ (the RTA does not take minutes of meetings) issues raised by meeting attendees via statements are rephrased, making citizens who have spoken out against life-threatening aspects of the RTA’s intended route appear to be quislings working in collaboration with the RTA.

· Having failed to adequately/honestly reply to issues previously raised, the RTA cancelled the July ‘community interest group’ meeting on the grounds that no questions had been submitted.

*In item no. 6 of the RTA’s notes of ‘community interest group’ meeting no. 2 (25th June, 2008) the RTA has printed the following instruction:-

Note: Items for discussion at next meetings [sic] to be raised at least two weeks prior to the meeting. Phone 1800 688 153 or email.