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Dumped syringes putting region's farmers at risk

Among the rubbish being illegally dumped on the Mackay region's farms are syringes.
Among the rubbish being illegally dumped on the Mackay region's farms are syringes. Paul Braven GLA160617NEEDLE

FARMERS are being swamped with other people's trash almost daily but the health risks these farmers face when they clean up the mess is firing up Mackay Region councillor Martin Bella.

Among the rubbish being illegally dumped on the region's farms are syringes, which has Cr Bella challenging how the health system hands them out.

Although it is an offence to possess a syringe that has not been properly disposed of, once it has been dumped the person is no longer in possession and cannot be charged by police.

That's why Cr Bella is targeting the health system.

"If they are going to fund a needle dispensary program (Queensland Health) also need to fund someone in the area that you can call and they will come and clean up the syringes if you find them," he said.

"Farmers and the general community don't have the resources to pick them up.

"If the government hands (syringes) out (it) has to promise the general public who are doing the right thing that they are not going to be in danger from those syringes."

Walkerston cane farmer Darrell McLennan said people dumped rubbish on his property two to three times a week.

When he finds other people's syringes, he first grabs his leather gloves, picks up the syringes and takes them to a public toilet where there is a sharps bin - where the syringes should have been left initially.

But it's the cow offal and fish frames that annoy him the most.

"(Illegal dumping) costs me hours and hours of time," he said.

It occurs so often that Mr McLennan has some funny stories about dumpers. He has one man's leaf blower and whipper snipper, which must have been sitting on top of the man's rubbish.

Mr McLennan said the man must have taken them out of his green Holden ute to get at the rubbish.

He was dumping the rubbish as Mr McLennan came around the corner, and fled in his ute leaving them behind.

"If he wants to come back and collect them they're here," Mr McLennan said.

Once, Mr McLennan said, he had seen a car someone was using to dump rubbish parked in a driveway on the other side of his property.

Mr McLennan loaded the rubbish in his ute, cut through his farm and beat the man back to his own house. "By the time he got home it was in his driveway."

Queensland Health did not respond to Cr Bella's criticism by deadline.

Topics:  illegal dumping mackay mackay regional council martin bella syringes walkerston



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