Springfield group warned over button battery balloon release
ORGANISERS of a New Year's Eve balloon release which caused public outrage over safety risks have been issued with an official warning by the State Government.
ICON Community Inc, the community arm of Breakthrough Church Springfield, released 300 helium balloons filled with light-up alkaline button batteries in a celebration on December 31, 2016.
Organisers said the release was about asking people to put their negative thoughts from 2016 into the balloons and free themselves of them for the year to come.
The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection today confirmed it has issued a formal warning to ICON after the New Year's incident which resulted in plastic from balloons and remnants of small button batteries scattered across Ipswich.
Residents reported finding remnants of the balloons filled with small light-up batteries as far as Brassall, some 30kms away.
" ICON was advised that any repeat offences could result in stronger enforcement action by EHP," a department spokesperson said.
"It is the nature of a 'lighter than air balloon' that once released, it will be carried to a place other than the place from which it was released. Therefore, the deliberate release of 'lighter than air balloons' is a breach of the act.
"The release of balloons especially those containing batteries can have undesirable environmental consequences and pose a serious danger to young children and animals."
The department warned the Springfield community group that, if they were to offend again, they could face thousands in fines.
"The illegal depositing of waste by a corporation, of a quantity of less than 200 litres is deemed to be littering and attracts a penalty of $1,219, with dangerous littering attracting a penalty of $1,950," the spokersperson said.
"Should the matter be contested in court, the maximum penalty, for littering by an individual is $3657 or $4876 for dangerous littering.
"On this occasion the department will not be proceeding with further action in relation to this investigation."
ICON Community Inc director Tina Vaka said the Queensland Government Department of Environment and Heritage Protection recently cleared the group over the New Year's balloon release.
"Moving forward we will not be doing any further balloon releases," she said.
"We were focused on the symbolic meaning of the balloon release and ignorant of the impact to the environment. We now have an opportunity to work with the Queensland Government Department of Environment and Heritage Protection to bring awareness to environmental issues.
"ICON Community is now focusing on New Year's Eve 2017 and their other initiatives for youth and the community."