Fluoride debate headed for court

Local anti-fluoride campaigners believe they have found a fundamental flaw in the process that has been undertaken by Rous Water and the constituent councils of Lismore, Ballina and Richmond Valley in approving the fluoridation of water supplies, and are now planning to take the matter to the Land and Environment Court.

In the NSW Department of Health’s Code of Practice for the fluoridation of public water supplies it states: “It is expected that a Water Supply Authority would have carried out a public consultation process prior to the Application to Fluoridate being made to NSW Health”.

“It never happened,” said Al Oshlack, who is providing legal advice to the anti-fluoride community groups. “That then invalidates Rous’ application to build treatment plants until they are properly authorised to do so. We are calling on all of the constituent councils, if they wish to fluoridate their water, to comply with the code or legal proceedings will be commenced against them and Rous Water.

“They (the councils) have misled the public by saying they were required to make that decision (to fluoridate) by NSW Health, but there is no compulsion at all. Byron Council has twice refused to fluoridate and there was no compulsion by NSW Health and no financial repercussions from the state government.”

But Rous general manager Kyme Lavelle said they had followed proper process and there was an opportunity for public consultation through the Review of Environmental Factors, which closes this Friday, February 5.

“In terms of our authority, the NSW Department of Health has gazetted approval for the fluoridation of water supplies for the areas of Lismore, Ballina and Richmond Valley. Council has invited public submission to its Review of Environmental Factors (REF) for the construction and operation of fluoridation plants, and that is currently in progress. The period of consultation has been extended to accommodate the Christmas and New Year break and allow people sufficient time to read the REF and to make submissions if necessary,” he said.

Mr Lavelle said he could not comment on whether Lismore, Ballina and Richmond Valley councils should have undertaken a public consultation process.

“Rous was not a part of the constituent councils’ process. We are acting in accordance with their direction and complying with the requirements of a government gazette. In the current instance, we are now required to provide fluoridated water to some of our constituent councils and this must be done by prescribed deadlines,” he said.


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