‘Toxic’ factory leaving locals sick and itchy

BURNING and itchy eyes, skin covered in eczema and constantly feeling like vomiting are just a few of the symptoms experienced by hundreds of people living close to a local factory they say is making them sick.

It's been four years since residents in the Brisbane suburbs of Moorooka and Salisbury started complaining of a stench coming from EGR, a plastic factory on Evans Rd in Salisbury.

The factory was forced to undertake an environmental investigation in 2014 which eventually led to it moving some of its manufacturing out to Darra, 14 kilometres southwest of Brisbane's city centre.

But now residents are up in arms again, insisting the "cat p**s" smell is making their children sick.

Yesterday around 100 locals took to the streets to protest against the factory, holding signs reading "Stop the Stink".

Local Liz O'Neill, who lives in Moorooka with her four kids, was one of the protesters.

The stench comes from the EGR factory in Salisbury.
The stench comes from the EGR factory in Salisbury.

"Skin specialist after skin specialist were saying that it was exposure to something," Ms O'Neill told 7 News.

"We go away for three weeks to Caloundra and everyone's perfect. We come back and all the symptoms come back."

Ms O'Neill has lodged hundreds of complaints with Brisbane City Council since 2014 and recently posted photographs of her son Tim with inflamed, itchy eyes.


Tim O’Neill has struggled with itchy, irritated eyes.
Tim O’Neill has struggled with itchy, irritated eyes.

"We built this beautiful home specifically to catch the breezes and now this happens,'' Ms O'Neill told City South News .

"I've developed sinus problems, which recently turned into pneumonia, my husband had a huge patch on his foot that took months to go away, my daughter often wakes with black around her mouth and her eyes burning and my oldest son on many mornings can't open his eyes because they are streaming."

Amanda Wall, the spokeswoman for the Salisbury Moorooka Noxious Odour Action Group (SMNOAG), was also at last weekend's protest.

"People say it makes them vomit, it makes them nauseous, it gives them headaches, it makes it difficult to breathe. People are having eczema from it," she said.

"We have a high impact industry that's been allowed to operate less than a kilometre away from houses and sensitive areas like kindergartens and schools."


SMNOAG protested on Sunday. Picture: SMNOAG
SMNOAG protested on Sunday. Picture: SMNOAG


Complaints about the factory make the news every couple of years - this time the stench made headlines after 11 different residents reached out to Brisbane City Council in one day.

Queensland transport minister Mark Bailey said he was ready to see EGR be penalised if they weren't following the law.

"This has been an issue that's occurred before, it's regrettable that it's flared again and if there's offences that are being committed then I absolutely support penalties being handed out," Mr Bailey told reporters.

"I look forward to it being resolved as quickly as possible, especially with Christmas coming up."

In a change.org petition started by SMNOAG, the group implored Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to commit to a review into the factory.

"Residents have been expected to breathe air that causes symptoms like asthma, vomiting, eczema, and eye and gut irritation; or to keep windows and doors closed and their children inside for extended periods of time," the petition reads.

"The council and the state government have repeatedly failed residents by allowing planning decisions to be made on this site that negatively affect wellbeing.

"Some residents report mental stress and worry about having to breathe the odour. In some cases, people have been forced to leave their homes until the odour has gone, or to terminate their lease or sell and move away."

Attempts were made to contact EGR for comment.


The EGR factory at Salisbury.
The EGR factory at Salisbury.

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