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President's Slate - June 2021

Hi all,

We are please to announce that the boat is now back in action and humming smoothly. Please keep an eye out on organised outings via our facebook group or the dive calendar on the website.

We are very excited about our club trip to Lady Musgrave and surrounding islands/dive sites. On the tail end of the trip is an optional double dive on the Tobruk wreck. Dates for the full trip are 18th to 26th September. An email about this went out on the 28 May, so check your inbox for details and contact Denise or Deborah if you are keen to join.

Thank you to John Turnbull our research officer who has spearheaded URG's decision to put in a submission to raise our concerns about the proposal to build a tunnel under middle and main harbour. Lots of toxins in the harbour that are are locked into the sediment now but would affect wildlife if disturbed. No contaminants report was available to the public during the consultation. There is a parliamentary enquiry into this now. We encourage all members who are so inclined to submit individual submissions as these do carry weight. I have attached our official submission as an appendix to the Slate, so feel free to use it as a template for your own response to this.

Reef Life Survey (RLS) has also secured a grant to train additional divers. Please register your interest by emailing John T and registering with RLS. If you are already qualified there are plenty of opportunities to dive from the URG boat for free when completing surveys.

A big thank you to Pablo, our Return and Earn charity membership has been approved, from Friday 4th June 2021 URG will be listed on the machines and the app. This is a big win to get listed here, as competition is fierce amongst community groups for this sort of thing. Any funds raised will be used to support Ocean Clean-Ups such as coffee / air fills for participating volunteers.

We are always looking for content and also a volunteer to coordinate collating our monthly Bulletin. Please help us our by sharing our dive or ocean related stories with us or let us know if you would like to take on the role of editor for a period of time

As always a big thanks to those who have been keeping the flame alive during this past difficult year. Due to lower than usual participation in club activities we are asking members to put on their creative caps to see how we all can get involved or think of any opportunities that can drive engagement or funding opportunities. Reach out if something comes to mind.

Lastly, if anyone wants to convene shore dives please reach out. While they don't contribute to revenue they certainly help by keeping the club alive and active, especially for newer members who are looking for dive buddies.

Happy winter diving everyone.

URG President

Duncan Heuer

Image taken at Heron Island last year. I haven't been to Lady Musgrave so this will have to do to build excitement for the trip in September!

Appendix - URG Submission

Re: Parliamentary Inquiry into the impact of the

Western Harbour Tunnel (WHT) and Beaches Link

The Underwater Research Group of New South Wales, or URG Dive Club, and is a non-commercial organisation of people who share an interest in, and a commitment to the underwater world. Its aim is to further all aspects of underwater exploration, research, safety, photography and conservation. The URG Dive Club was formed in September 1953 and is still going strongly today, with over 50 members in the Greater Sydney region.

URG members have been diving in Sydney Harbour and surrounds for over 50 years, and have a particular interest in the health of the Harbour and its marine life. We have reviewed the plans and potential impacts of the proposed WHT and have a number of serious concerns:

1. The WHT Environmental Impact Statement (EIS, January 2020) and subsequent Submissions Report (September 2020) did not sufficiently consider the impacts of tunnel construction to the marine environment and natural resource assets of Sydney Harbour. Resuspension and redistribution of contaminated sediments, and the spread of dissolved toxic chemicals in the water were not adequately assessed and have the potential to harm and kill Sydney’s unique, often rare and threatened marine life.

2. The Contaminants Report (Golder-Douglas 2017) was commercial in confidence until after the public submission period was closed, so the project was not subject to appropriate levels of transparency.

3. As detailed in the Sydney Morning Herald article (Feb, 2021) ( very high levels of banned toxic chemicals (tributyltin - TBT, dioxins, arsenic, mercury) are in the sediments of the Harbour and especially Berrys Bay. These have the potential to re-enter the environment as a result of the proposed construction activities.

4. The impact of toxicants on marine life includes death, accumulation of contaminants in benthic animals and movement of toxins up the food chain to birds, fish and humans.

5. Proposed mitigation measures, such as shallow silt curtains, will not contain toxic chemicals in the sediment plume as the construction and staging sites experience high waves, currents and wind activity. The potential for accidents, such as dredge spoil spills, must also be considered.

6. The Environmental Risk Analysis and Revised Environmental Measures should be reassessed to include the risk of poisoning of the environment, marine life and humans.

7. Highly valued, threatened and protected marine life that resides in the Harbour or near the heads, within the locality of the WHT impacts, includes (source: diver photographs):

We would like our concerns to be considered as part of the Parliamentary Inquiry.


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