UPDATE: Group apologises for battery-filled balloon release
ORGANISERS of a New Year's Eve balloon release gone wrong have apologised for their actions.
ICON, the community arm of Breakthrough Church Springfield, said they did not intend for the 300 button battery-filled balloons released into the sky on Saturday night to cause environmental or physical harm.
ICON director Tina Vaka said she was surprised to see the public reaction when she woke up on Sunday morning.
"We sold the balloons to raise money for the event which is in its fourth year," she said.
"We apologise for releasing balloons. (The negative reaction) was not our intention at all.
"It was our way of trying to demonstrate love and forgiveness but we will not be releasing balloons at next year's event.
"We are already looking at other ways we can demonstrate that for next year."
SMALL alkaline button batteries have been dispersed through Ipswich posing a serious danger to young children and animals after a New Year's Eve stunt dubbed "dumb" by council.
ICON Community Inc held a family New Year's celebration at Robelle Domain where helium balloons containing light up batteries were released into the air.
Ipswich environmentalist Luise Manning estimated about 300 balloons were released on Saturday and said organisers were asking people to put their negative thoughts from 2016 into the balloons and free themselves of them for the year to come.
Although she acknowledged the positive sentiment behind the release, Ms Manning the deadly batteries could cause serious harm or even death to unsuspecting children in the area and that they and the plastic from the balloons could result in "shocking" environmental damage.
"I've heard the balloons have been found as far away as Booval and Brassall and I picked about four up around Robelle Domain the next day still with the lights flashing," she said.
"I found many broken balloons in the parkland and the batteries were exposed. I saw children had placed them behind their ears. I sure hope none were ingested.
"They can get into our water system, injure animals and children."
ICON has not responded to the QT's attempts to contact them however the organisation did post a statement on Facebook shortly after the event.
"Thank you to the whole community that came out yesterday to celebrate New Year's Eve together," it read.
"Thank you to those in our community who have expressed their concerns regarding the balloons and the releasing of these at our event.
"We will be taking this into consideration for our next event."
The Pickup3 Save Me campaign and Operation Creek Clean Up organiser said she and her husband both tried to prevent the balloon release when they found out.
"I called them before the release and they basically told me to go away," she said.
"It's a massive environmental disaster and I don't think their response is good enough."
Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale said he would be speaking with his fellow councillors tomorrow about changing the conditions of funding for future community events.
Cr Pisasale said council was not aware that the balloon release was going to take place.
"This event was not council run but they applied for funds and we did support them and this is the first time anything like this has happened," he said.
"Policies on helium balloons will be part of the conditions of funding approval for future events. We just assumed organisers would use common sense.
"I regard (the balloon release) as dumb. I know they thought they were doing the right thing but organisers need to be held accountable.
"It's a danger, these balloons are all scattered over the country side now. I encourage everyone to have a quick look around their yard and, if you find these balloons, to throw them away."