Fluoride Action Network

Rous Water: Legal threat halts fluoride bids

Source: Northern Star | July 22nd, 2010 | By Rebecca Lollback
Location: Australia

THE threat of legal action yesterday forced Rous Water to reject all tenders for the construction of its fluoride dosing plants.

Anti-fluoride campaigner Al Oshlack, of Lismore, says he will commence proceedings against Rous Water in the NSW Land and Environment Court tomorrow.

This came just as the water authority was preparing to accept a tender for construction work for the plants at Knockrow, Corndale, Dorroughby, Clunes and Marom Creek.

But at yesterday’s meeting, Rous’s technical services director, Wayne Franklin, said that accepting a tender would not be in the council’s best interests.

“Entering into a contract that might be delayed or terminated as a consequence of Mr Oshlack’s action places council at a significant financial risk,” he wrote in a last-minute report to councillors.

“The contractor may have a basis on which to seek damages from council for costs incurred due to delay or termination of the contract.”

Mr Oshlack said he been considering legal action for about 12 months.

“I’m going to sign off on it on Friday,” he said.

“I feel really confident about this.

“They (the Rous Water councillors) have made a really, really bad decision.

“Fluoride, even in small amounts, can be dangerous, and the full environmental impacts weren’t considered.

“Also, the way the decision has been made has been bad because certain councillors were intimidated.

“This kind of thing is just not on.

“Somebody has to stand up against it.

“I’ve had a lot of community support for this action.”

Mr Oshlack’s proposed summons seeks to stop Rous Water from doing any activity or work related to the construction of the fluoridation plants.

This includes letters of tenders, execution of capital funding programs, construction of the plants and their operation.

Instead of accepting a tender for the construction of the fluoride dosing plants, Rous Water will now start negotiations with the preferred tenderer.

NSW Health will be included in those discussions.

Mr Franklin said the council was still, at this stage, legally bound to construct and operate the plants.

The cost of the construction has also skyrocketed.

It is now expected to cost about $2.087 million, $648,000 more than the original estimate.

NSW Health has agreed to fund the shortfall.