Dust clouds have been billowing from the Sunshine Coast Airport new runway project for months. The Department of Environment and Science says it is Sunshine Coast Council’s responsibility to comply with conditions meant to control it.
Dust clouds have been billowing from the Sunshine Coast Airport new runway project for months. The Department of Environment and Science says it is Sunshine Coast Council’s responsibility to comply with conditions meant to control it.

Dust fails to settle on airport stoush

THE dust has far from settled for Sunshine Coast Airport tenants disgruntled at mounting cleaning costs they say is a result of ongoing work at the construction site.

The Department of Environment and Science has now weighed in on the matter, saying Sunshine Coast Council is responsible for complying with conditions meant to control dust from the site.

To date, McDermott Aviation has billed the airport $50,000 for cleaning costs.

Sunshine Coast Council has claimed that dust and dirt making a mess of airport tenant McDermott Aviation's hangars were due to broader atmospheric conditions than that generated by the runway construction site on its doorstep. Photo: Contributed
Sunshine Coast Council has claimed that dust and dirt making a mess of airport tenant McDermott Aviation's hangars were due to broader atmospheric conditions than that generated by the runway construction site on its doorstep. Photo: Contributed

“The Department of Environment and Science will ensure council abides by its environmental obligations and follows the conditions of the Environmental Authority,” a spokesman said.

“DES has a number of enforcement options available if environmental nuisance or environmental harm from dust is identified, which can include infringement notices and prosecution for more serious offences.

“The construction contractor will be responsible for managing dust emissions by implementing mitigation measures appropriate for the works and conditions.”

The council has blamed broader environmental conditions for the problem.

Sunshine Coast Airport has already been sent more than 12 invoices each totalling $3975 for cleaning costs incurred by one of its major tenants. Photo Patrick Woods / Sunshine Coast Daily.
Sunshine Coast Airport has already been sent more than 12 invoices each totalling $3975 for cleaning costs incurred by one of its major tenants. Photo Patrick Woods / Sunshine Coast Daily.

“Clearly there are multiple sources of dust, not only in the vicinity of the construction activities associated with the new runway, but also across the Sunshine Coast and southeast Queensland in general due to the dry and windy conditions,” a council spokesman said.

“Council’s contractor takes their environmental obligations very seriously and has an active testing regime in place. Residents and businesses are encouraged to take precautionary measures to minimise impacts.”

The mess being created by dust billowing off the Sunshine Coast Airport runway construction site has been an ongoing problem for months. The Department of Environment and Science says Sunshine Coast Council is responsible for managing the problem. Photo: Contributed
The mess being created by dust billowing off the Sunshine Coast Airport runway construction site has been an ongoing problem for months. The Department of Environment and Science says Sunshine Coast Council is responsible for managing the problem. Photo: Contributed

McDermott Aviation managing director Simon McDermott said problems remained unresolved five months after they began.

The company has sent the airport in excess of 12 invoices, each for about $4000 for the cleaning of aircraft, equipment and work hangars due to dust from the runway construction site.

It has also had to employ two extra staff to clean up the mess created each time the wind blows from any northerly direction.

“It’s like a finely ground lead,” he said of the mess.

“It stains your fingers when you wipe it. We’ve had to put on two new staff to keep equipment washed down. Then overnight it just rebuilds over everything.”

Mudjimba Residents Association president Martin Peelgrane said dust could be seen rising above the construction site and residents had complained of it covering cars and putting a film on the bottom of swimming pools.

Questions put to the council about air quality results were ignored. In a statement, the spokesman said the project was “leading the way and is fulfilling its obligations”.

“All obligations are taken seriously, are assiduously managed and there are multiple measures in place by the contractor for managing dust that may emanate from the project site.”