News stories – Fluoride-free by May: Council takes action to decommission plant

This article was originally published in print in The Herbert River Express on May 1 2017

HINCHINBROOK Shire Council is now taking steps to become the 29th local government area in Queensland to become fluoride free as early as May.

It comes after a motion of four to three votes to remove fluoride from the region’s water supply was delivered at last Tuesday’s March meeting in Ingham.

“Council staff will now proceed with action to cease adding fluoride to the town water supply following council’s decision,” Mayor Ramon Jayo said.

“Given the statutory process that must now be followed, the earliest that this can occur is early May.

The Water Fluoridation Act 2008 requires a water provider to give 30 days notice of a decision to cease to add fluoride to the water supply.

“The notice must be published at least once in a newspaper generally circulating in the area of the State serviced by the water supply.

“We will be aiming for around May 5.”

Cr Jayo said works would involve hard disconnection of all injection points, modification of pipe work, removal and disposal of chemical sampling regimes, disconnection of analysers and telemetry equipment and modification of stations and alarms.

“THE annual operating cost of adding fluoride to the water is approximately $141,000, $77,000 of which is staff wages. Former treatment staff will not be laid off,” Cr Jayo said.

Queenslanders for Safe Water, Air and Food president Merilyn Haines said it was great to see the removal of fluoride in the Hinchinbrook district’s water supply.

“I think it’s a success in it’s a victory for common sense and respecting the community,” Ms Haines said.

Ms Haines was disappointed to see the Mayor vote against the removal, but was happy “unethical mass medication” would no longer be forced in the community.

“Hinchinbrook now joins the 95 per cent of the world’s population that do not add fluoride to their drinking water,” Ms Haines said.

“And World Health Organisation data shows little difference in tooth decay in fluoridated and non-fluoridated countries”.

Australian Dental Association spokesman Dr Michael Foley said he was disappointed council bowed down to the pressure of “misinformed campaigning from eccentric fringe groups”.

He said Australia’s leading health and scientific authorities and state to federal level health departments encouraged all communities to reduce tooth decay and improve dental health.

“Few things are as important as good health,” he said.

He said the local decision would hurt the disadvantaged the most by increasing cavities and reducing dental health.

“Following this decision, the Australian Dental Association urges Hinchinbrook residents to brush with fluoride toothpaste and floss their teeth,” Dr Foley said.

“Maintain a healthy diet and have regular dental check-ups, but the added benefits provided by water fluoridation cannot be easily replaced.”

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