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Community education is key to keeping rivers clean

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Ocean Crusader Mark Harvey says community education is vital to protect the environment.

Community education is key to keeping the Burnett River clean with Ocean Crusaders spending Sunday morning along Mariners Way, North Bundaberg.

A call for volunteers to assist went unheeded, with nobody turning up.

Ocean Crusaders Founder Ian Thomson said the team had been in the Bundaberg Region since Monday and had uncovered items along the waterways they had never seen before, with some items leaving them scratching their heads.

“We’ve been down in the mangroves collecting items that have washed in out of the drains, street litter – bottles, cans, straws, fast food and cigarette packets,” he said.

“It’s a delicate process as mangroves are a protected species.

“It’s always fantastic if community members turn up to help, it’s more hands to help and we can provide education as well.”

Ian said although nothing he found shocked him any more, he was dumbfounded to see items such as fridges dumped in the waterway, as people could take them to a scrap metal or recycling place and be paid to leave it there.

“A lot of the stuff we are picking up can be recycled and it doesn’t cost people to take it to the dump,” he said.

“A lot of the items we find can go to the dump for free, so we have no idea why it’s being dumped.”

Ocean Crusaders’ Mark Harvey said community education was vital to ensure not only the Bundaberg community, but all of Australia had an understanding of the effect of dumped items on the environment.

Mark said they had found refrigerators and batteries, along the Burnett River and both of these items could be taken to any of the Bundaberg Region’s tips for free.

Earlier in the week Ian said they had spent time collecting both dumped waste and items that had ended up in the waterway after the floods around Rubyanna.

“We’ve put a few extra things on our list that we have never found before,” he said.

“There is a 20-foot refrigerated shipping container that’s full of foam and we don’t want to expose that to the environment, and most of the big things from the floods are sitting down at Rubyanna, and it’s going to need some special equipment to help remove it.”

Ian said during the first day of cleaning the Burnett River, they had uncovered 43 tyres, and 32 more were found in a smaller creek later in the week.

“Nothing shocks me these days, but the thing that stood out the most was the illegal dumping, especially of tyres,” he said.

“We travel from Tasmania right along the east coast and we don’t normally see this number of tyres – it’s staggering, and we are talking tractor tyres, bulldozer tyres and car tyres; there seems to be something that is going on.”

Ocean Crusaders will return to the Bundaberg Region to hold more community education events. For updates click here or phone 0447 887 853.

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