Flood debris cleared in Ukerebagh Nature Reserve

More than 50 cubic meters of flood debris and a 12-tonne pontoon has been cleared from the sensitive Ukerebagh Nature Reserve at Tweed Heads by NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) flood clean-up crews assisted by rangers from the Tweed Byron Local Aboriginal Land Council (LALC), Tweed Aboriginal Co-operative Society Limited and Tweed Shire Council.

EPA flood recovery manager Martin Puddey said that clean-up of the island near the mouth of the Tweed River was part of the NSW Government’s ongoing recovery efforts due to the multiple flood events this year. Already more than 3,300 cubic metres (165, 8-tonne trucks) of shoreline and river debris has been collected from across the Northern Rivers region.

“Crews led by the NSW EPA, including specialist marine clean-up contractors and National Parks and Wildlife Service, removed drums and containers, timber pallets, silage bales, tyres, furniture, gas bottles and various plastics,” Mr Puddey said.

“Much of this had been identified by aerial surveys over flood affected areas used to map out clean-up operations.

“Rangers from the Tweed Byron LALC and the Tweed Aboriginal Co-operative Society have been accompanying crews to share their valuable knowledge of the local area and to help preserve culturally sensitive sites in the Ukerebagh Nature Reserve.”

Chairperson of the Tweed Aboriginal Co-operative Society Nicole Rotumah said that Rangers provided cultural support to the clean-up crews.

“Ukerebagh Island is important to our local Aboriginal people including the Blue Hole, for traditional hunting and gathering oysters, crabs and fish,” Ms Rotumah said.

CEO of the Tweed Byron LALC Leweena Williams said it was really important that the LALC was part of the clean-up and making the area safe,

“This river system is really important to our people, we’re saltwater people and we have a responsibility to take care of it.”

Mr Puddey said that clean-up of the Tweed area remains a priority and efforts were being made to recycle and return lost property where possible.

“The debris collected from Ukerebagh has been taken to a local waste staging area for sorting where as much as possible will be recovered for recycling and reuse. This is yet another great outcome for our local area because it ensures as little as possible ends up in landfill.”

“We are hearing some remarkable stories of how far people’s belongings have travelled. We had a 12 tonne pontoon being returned from the Ukerebagh Reserve to South Murwillumbah, almost 25km away, to a very grateful owner.”

Members of the community can report flood debris in local rivers and beaches or seek advice regarding the removal of hazardous materials through the Environment Line on 131 555 or info@epa.nsw.gov.au or flood.programs@epa.nsw.gov.au

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