Casino Abattoir and it's relation to presence of sharks in Ballina.

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bluediamond started the topic in Thursday, 20 Aug 2020 at 8:45pm

Hey Swellnuts. Just gonna put this here. Some research i did on the possible impact of the Casino abattoir and the rise in shark numbers off Ballina. I sent it off to media, shire councils and parliament with mixed results. I just can't let it rest as i personally believe there's a huge connection.
Please note this is just observations from 2017,...and i'm no scientist or hardcore uni student. Just a surfer trying to put the pieces together.
Would be interested in any thoughts and feedback. Cheers and stay safe!!

To whom it may concern.
Thanks for taking the time to read my document. Whilst I tried to make it as formal as possible, please note I am just a surfer, that surfs these waters, and I’m just trying to pass on some information that I believe to be hugely important. This is not a university assignment or a peer reviewed journal, but I did try to structure it as well as possible to make it easier to read and leave the reader with an opportunity to make an informed decision on my comments. Feel free to contact me with any thoughts or queries. I really hope this helps and it leads to a solution. I’m half expecting to get eaten everytime I surf and have even prepared myself mentally for the moment. I have friends driving to the Gold Coast to surf and friends who have stopped surfing. I wholeheartedly do not support netting or culling. There has to be a better solution. I do believe I have found the source of the problem. I like many surfers have had many sleepless nights trying to work out what’s going on. But like a wise friend of mine once said, there are no problems, only solutions. Thanks.
Hard Facts:
Northern Cooperative Meat Company:
• Located approximately 70km upstream from the entrance of the Richmond River.
• Processes 1200 head/day of veal and 800 head/day of beef for an annual throughput greater than 42,000 ETCW. It is a service abattoir with a boning room, rendering plant and tannery and treats and disposes of all waste on site (file:///C:/Users/Paul/Downloads/APIA0033-Final-Report.pdf ) p61
• Has been using the wastewater used for washing of slaughtered cattle for irrigating crops at nearby San Marla property on Saville Road. Unknown year operation began. Unknown quantity of water used.
• Saville Road approximately 3km from Richmond River. From looking at google earth, numerous tributaries can be seen running through the area, all, most likely to feed into Richmond river.
• Southern Cross University have been asked to help with a problem of ‘contamination’ of the soil from the high volume of water being used on the land and also to try to suck up some of the water using reed type plants.
“The reuse of wastewater and effluents for irrigation can result in excessive nutrient build-up in the soil, in particular significant amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus and organic carbon, but also sodium, which over time may cause land degradation and water pollution,” said agronomist Professor Rose.
• Processing activities required for meat production generate large quantities of wastewater and solid waste with predominantly high salt and organic content,” said Systems Manager at NCMC, Trevor Moore.
• “Conventional remediation of the effluent is not only costly but is a waste of good organic matter that is much more economical when applied to cropping,” he said.
• “Whilst we have been irrigating crops for a number of years, this project will identify plants that will not only improve nutrient uptake but also generate greater bio-mass providing opportunities for bio-energy recovery, already under investigation by NCMC.”
• NCMC’s waste management program is ‘unconventional’ in that it doesn’t store it’s wastewater in large containers to allow evaporation of liquid content. Instead they have tried a cost effective and environmentally friendly way of getting rid of the waste water. Whether or not the true effects this would have on the environment around it, and in particular the potential runoff into the nearby river system are relatively unknown.
WHEN it comes to processing waste there is the standard method – using sequentially batched reactors which require substantial energy and flocculants.
And there are alternative ‘out of the box’ ways of doing the same job. Northern Co-operative Meat Company is investigating the latter and after early trials is optimistic the answer will tick all the right boxes.

Hard Facts on:
The Richmond River:
• It only ever flows in one direction. Towards Ballina. All of the water from upstream at some point enters the ocean at either Ballina or Evans head
• At Woodburn, a small tributary runs off from the Richmond river, eventually growing in size downstream to become the Evans River, coming out at Evans Head, next to the Surf Club.
• After high volumes of rain, vast amounts of dirty water can be seen over large areas of coastal waters both North and South of Ballina, dependant on local conditions on the day (eg wind, swell, tides, etc). The dirty water is generally regarded as topsoil being washed off of farms further upstream, eg, Casino.
• The last relatively significant rainfall events in Casino in 2016 were during August. Twice in August it received 50mm of rain during 24 hour periods.
• It’s unlikely that it needs emphasizing, however a significant number of shark attacks have occurred at the entrance to the Richmond river and also one at the entrance to it’s tributary at Evans Head,as well as the beaches to the North of the river entrance. No cluster of attacks have occurred at both the Tweed River entrance, nor the Clarence River entrance, both of which have sizeable surfing populations regularly surfing around the beaches alongside the entrance (granted the shark nets begin just North of the Tweed river). Considering the surfing population around Ballina has significantly dropped in recent months, however the number of shark incidents has continued to rise, it is likely the Richmond river is a possible source of some attraction for the White Pointer.
Hard Facts on
• According to a very quick google search, A shark's primary sense is a keen sense of smell. It can detect one drop of blood in a million drops of water (25 gallons or 100 liters) and can smell blood 0.25 mile (0.4 km) away.
• This is just an observation, but from any footage I have seen of cage diving, from what I can gather, they burley the water up with blood so that the White Pointers will get a ‘smell’ for it and go into a feeding frenzy. It seems effective as they tend to have sharks hanging around the boats, biting at anything, including propellers, cages, and whatever else they can because it seems the blood activates an urge to eat.
• There has been an unprecedented amount of sharks being tagged and observed off the coast around Ballina and Byron over the last 2years. The numbers are only rising and also the anecdotal reports coming from ocean users is they have never seen numbers so high. The biggest cluster however seems to be around the Entrance to the Richmond river. Also it was reported last weekend that during a SLSC competition at the beach next to the Evans River entrance, competition had to be put on hold 6 times due to various shark sightings throughout the day. Also unheard of in the past.
• The majority of attacks have been by sharks in the 2.5-3m size. Scientists have been saying that at this size they move from primarily feeding on fish, to small mammals. It thus could appear unusual that such large amounts of attacks have been on humans by sharks of this size, all of a sudden. Could this be a link to blood in the water putting them into attack mode and surfers just happen to be the first thing the sharks come across after being drawn into the beaches adjacent to the river mouths?
Speculative Facts:
Today I tried calling NCMC to get some hard facts about their waste water disposal program. I was given the number from the main office to a guy named Craig. He attempted to answer some of my questions, but they were vague answers before palming me off to talk to Trevor Moore, someone he said would have superior knowledge. I couldn’t find any details for Mr Moore.
However the conversation with Craig went as such.
When I called, the guy i talked to was very certain that the run off from the crops couldn't reach the river. I asked him what about through the many tributaries and irrigation channels that funnel off to the river and he remained adamant and slightly irritable. When i asked him about what happens after heavy rain, surely it can reach the river then, he was still all no. He seemed pretty keen to not want to explain why although I did ask for more details. For someone that knew for certain that it was impossible for the water to escape he seemed to know very little about the actual operations.
Then i asked him why Southern Cross was called in to fix the contaminated soil. He got pretty annoyed when i used the word contaminated, and said it was just getting high levels of phosphorous and other agents that I listed above. Sounds contaminated to me. When the soil is not it’s natural self and has been infiltrated with other chemicals due to human interference? That’s contamination. He palmed me off to another guy who i cant find contact details for. He also didn't know how long the project has been going for, which i found strange because he was a significant staffer and someone i was recommended to talk to from the office. When i asked him why there was no information available online at all about San Marla, he just replied, you will have to talk to Trevor Moore. He kept saying that. So the conversation was pretty much a dead end.
So i dunno, but to me it sounds like they are just saying yeah yeah, all good, nothing to see here, but in reality it sounds like the bombardment with abbottoir run off has obviously had an affect on the soil quality, which in my humble opinion, can only have a snowball effect, that being that after any rain, the soil would find it's way to the river, highly contaminated soil and that would enter the water system etc etc. Also if thats seeping into the water table, it surely would find it's way to the river?.
It sounds like it was a trial that was possibly approved by the EPA because they put all their parameters in place, which probably included a contingency (gotta tick those boxes) for something like soil quality being affected. That contingency is probably the trial in place now by Southern Cross University. Im sure they would never admit the water is reaching the river but a quick look at google earth shows that the area the site is on, Saville Road Casino, has heaps of tributaries branching off towards the river. Surely they haven't just sealed the site off to avoid any potential runoff reaching at least one of these little tributaries, particularly after heavy rain, especially considering the volume of water being used from 1200+ slaughters of cattle per day! That water has to go somewhere. The last time they had a solid dump was two lots of 52mm in August so that would probably be enough to start a chain reaction of seepage from the site. Or maybe its just finding it's way there regardless of rainfall. I find it hard to believe you could contain that vast a volume of water (guessing) from reaching a watercourse less than 3km away.

Questions that need Answering:
When did the ‘unconventional’ method of treating the plants wastewater begin? If this corresponds with the same timing of the shark incidents increasing, I believe this could be the sole reason for the shark behaviour being so dramatically changed to what is normal for this area. Also, why is there no evidence available of when the trial was started.
What is the water quality throughout the Richmond river and Evans river particularly after rain? Are there traces of blood from the abbatoir escaping into the river? If so how much? And can this make its way all the way down stream?
Is water sampling an option??
Why would the sharks all of a sudden become so magnetized to the Richmond river entrance and surrounding beaches, yet not the other river systems. And why have they been aggressive compared to any other time in the past, seemingly out of nowhere. Again, does this correspond to a timeline of the abattoirs wastewater management scheme.
What about the other abbatoirs situated along the Richmond river? What are their waste water schemes? Particularly the piggery at Booyung.

I firmly believe that there is something coming from the Richmond river that is attracting the sharks to it’s entrance and surrounding beaches, and driving them to be aggressive and in a constant attack mode. It has been mentioned that in the past, when Byron Bay was a whaling town, numerous great whites would cluster around the towns whaling station. Since it’s closure, no such clusters occur. While there have been attacks at Byron and Broken head, the sheer number and cluster of sharks around Ballina suggests something extraordinary. If the river is the obvious point of reference that they seem to congregate around, then logic suggests something is coming out of the river. Finding the source of what it is that’s attracting them is the key, I believe, to solving this problem. Considering Casino is ranked in the top 20 of meat producers in the country, slaughtering 2000 beasts per day, and that they have developed an alternative method of wastewater removal, as opposed to the conventional and stringent ways approved by environmental agencies, it seems to me, that the source of the problem could be the SanMarla farm and it’s dubious operations.

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bluediamond Sunday, 11 Oct 2020 at 7:10pm

Thanks Belly. Sorry for delayed reply...only just saw this. Thanks for the feedback and agree with your thoughts. Well we might have Rabs now on the GC and potentially Maurice Cole on the Surf Coast. Who would've thunk....times are a changin. It's been a pretty hectic year and so much more going on since i posted this, which is out dated anyway, but still holds some relevance. Currently putting my energy towards what we can do to actually avoid being attacked in the first place. Nature has lessons we're not listening to and there's definitely a way to stop being sitting ducks. I've wanted to post my ideas on this for a while but have been hesitant due to the constant black and white i'm reading of correspondents on here. Really wanna see crew pull together and not form allegiances to one side or the other regarding shark mitigation. There is actually other solutions but by fighting about cull or not cull we're completely overlooking them. Thanks again for your thoughts bud. Yew!

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Blowin Saturday, 26 Dec 2020 at 8:18pm


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bluediamond Saturday, 26 Dec 2020 at 8:24pm

Hey Cheers Belly!!! Sorry to only reply now but i only just saw this. Surfers are the worst...especially when it comes to being responsible. Yeah that's the way i see it too...and i haaaate to live in a litigated society...but when the big dogs are making dollars at the expense of others and their way of living, it's time to hold them accountable. Theirs actually alot more to this story that my non journalistic/scientific brain couldn't get around, including how the cost of water from the Casino council went up at the same time they changed their practices. And it was a direct money grab by Casino council on the abattoir to make more money. But i honestly don't have the skills to go that deep...but the evidence is there. The buck was passed so to speak. I still stand by my research and still believe at the time, it was part of the reason for the attacks, and fuck, hopefully the casino somehow read it and changed their ways. My life was pretty drastically affected at the time by the government and i couldn't help but think in the most paranoid of ways that it was all connected so i backed off. Anyway.....

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belly Sunday, 27 Dec 2020 at 5:48pm

Ha ha, thanks bluediamond, you acknowledged 2 posts above, all good.
I'm not sure how my post came across but as an undergraduate economist, and as my career has progressed, I've just been thinking more that our economic system needs to mature in terms of the cost of externalities. Be it carbon, waste, or other non intended outcomes (increased prevalence of shark attacks?). I think too much responsibility is left to the consumer and not the corporation, and often the legal system provides a good basis of bringing change. I'll leave it at that for now after 3 frothies :-)
Merry Christmas :-)

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frog Monday, 28 Dec 2020 at 8:45am

If you read this thread, what is amazing is that there are so few shark attacks around Ballina - all those bull sharks!

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udo Saturday, 13 Mar 2021 at 7:46pm
velocityjohnno's picture
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velocityjohnno Saturday, 13 Mar 2021 at 8:46pm

Interesting udo, you are the master of links

That's quite a bit of research. I noted that some of the locations are approximate, eg the Wedge Island attacks. 30% near outfalls... 80% within 40km of outfalls 2010-20

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udo Saturday, 13 Mar 2021 at 9:12pm

Na hardly a link master that article popped up as i was checking todays shark attack details
attack time - weather - moon phase etc with the 2014 attack at Tathra .

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truebluebasher Sunday, 14 Mar 2021 at 3:48pm

Yes! 2nd that velocityjohnno...udo is an excellent researcher.
Plenty of great local leads as well.

Verifying that as far back as 1700's worldly beachgoers feared Sewage attracts sharks.
1870's From day one all Aussie Surfers knew not to shit where they surfed.
1883 Free Shark food handouts was the national term for Sewer outfalls.
1914 Bondi noted that their putrid darkened sewage seeped sand was drawing sharks into shore.
1926 Oz were trying to headline the fact that Sharks love Poo Soup.
1960's Syd big wastewater outfalls attracted Big Sharks so they hired Japs to cut the fins off Sharks.

Note: Oz #1 Shark finning capital (Endangered Hammer Heads are the Prize)
Loophole allows harvesting to sell shark & fin online/onshore then cut fin & dump / or can the rest.

2021 Will Vax Rollout covid leakage spawn a Mutant Great White Covid Strain...
Don't worry! His flesh eating drool is worse than his bite! (Science Fiction Flesh Eaters?)
Without antibiotics the Shark Tally wouldn't feature survivors...
Blood can be replaced but Shark virus kills!
Rule #1 Every Shark bite victim's "treatment" requires Antibiotics.
Ok! But that's just a warning...nothing serious would eventuate...Would it!
Shark Victim...Go fund My Flesh!

Marine life can't escape inshore drug cocktails & cross contamination virus from Human Wastewater
Seals, Dolphins & Whales contract coronavirus thru Eyes & Blowholes from inshore sewage outfalls.
Pretty sure the get Avian & canine diseases as well...again there's no escaping it..24/7 & spreads.
This is why Govt's order public away from marine carcasses....Vibrio contagion outbreaks!

tbb warns if you don't know what Vibrio is...don't do a google image search! Just Don't!

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bluediamond Sunday, 14 Mar 2021 at 4:02pm

Yeah wow. Cheers Udo, and TBB for those links. Well, 2000 a cows upstream without a foolsafe method of stopping their bloody carcass juices from reaching the river surely falls into the wastewater category.
I remember watching a doco a few years ago, but can't find it anywhere. It was research into different reasons behind attacks, i think in Sth Africa. The main takeaway that came out of it was that urinating in your wettie was a huge trigger to alert a noah, especially White Pointers of your presence and lead to a higher chance of attack. I don't wee in my wettie anymore, if possible anyway. That's one of those factors that's probably hard to check up on, but i wonder how many crew that have been attacked are constant wetty pissers.

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udo Sunday, 14 Mar 2021 at 4:13pm
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bluediamond Sunday, 14 Mar 2021 at 4:51pm

Good one Udo. They should put this up at every beach carpark Australia wide. It's pretty thorough, and although most of this is second nature to alot of us, there's some good reinforcement in it and also a few things i learnt from it too. Loved the one, 'if you feel a bump, calmly leave the water'! haha. Yeah right. If only it was that simple.
Such a good point about not splashing and fleeing a Pointer....but minimizing anything that will cause it to enter attack/pursue mode.

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bluediamond Sunday, 14 Mar 2021 at 4:54pm

'Apply indirect pressure to the femoral artery, compress the artery to the bone helping to
shut off blood flow and prevent blood loss. '
This is such a key thing and something largely overlooked. We're told to apply pressure and stop bleeding, but if it's a femoral artery, i think the directive needs to be more specific. Would be good to have more information put out into the surfing community about this one, because time is of the essence when dealing with this situation.

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bluediamond Friday, 28 May 2021 at 7:51pm

Just popped back in to this thread and re read all the comments. Cheers all. Appreciate your feedback as always! It's a good place to throw all our wild and not so wild theories out there so go your hardest. All these bits of wisdom thrown in the mix, some kind of gold has to eventually rise to the top. So sad to hear the news a couple of weeks ago from Tuncurry breakwall.
Hopefully if i was even remotely on the right track, which i think i was back in 2016, enough things have changed in the practices of the Casino Meat Works to lower the frequency of shark interactions around the mouth of the river. If i was wrong, at least it's one less stone unturned :-)

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Hutchy 19 Thursday, 19 Aug 2021 at 3:32pm

A late question which I could not find answer for ( only quick look ) .
When was the abattoir opened ? Also a tannery and guess that was opened at the same time .

If been going for longer than the shark problems where is the correlation ?

Byron proved sharks hang around the out flow but did not increase numbers to the problem levels of today .

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bluediamond Thursday, 19 Aug 2021 at 3:50pm

Hi Hutchy. I'd recommend reading it. The correlation comes from the timing of SCU's trial of using the wastewater on the land to encourage a 'green' solution to treating the wastewater (growing reeds that would suck up the water and then using the crops for other purposes) as opposed to the tried and trued and stringent practice of containing that water within vats and allowing the water to evaporate. Maybe linked, maybe not. There's also something i dug up about it correlating with exactly the same period that Casino council upped the rates for water due to the excessive usage from the abbatoir but can't find the link for that but it conveniently ties into the same period of time. Onto something? Maybe, probably not, but there's a possibility and that's what i was raising for discussion. Cheers.

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bluediamond Thursday, 19 Aug 2021 at 4:29pm

Another one for the timeline. May have been posted above but will post again.

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Hutchy 19 Thursday, 19 Aug 2021 at 4:33pm

Blue Diamond . Thanks for responding . I wrote just wrote a post on sharks on Interesting Stuff . Can so no link to shark numbers and possible green solutions and out flows in general ( as I pointed out in my other post ). When was it opened ?

Also hope you can respond to suggestions on your other topic which I would be keen to see .

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bluediamond Thursday, 19 Aug 2021 at 4:39pm

Any chance you could do your own research Hutch? Plenty out there in google world.

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Hutchy 19 Thursday, 19 Aug 2021 at 5:41pm

Don't need to . Using your words " flogging a dead horse on this one."