'We've got to stop': Powerful message after incredible discovery in city waterway

Josh Dutton
News Reporter

A community group has removed more than 13 tonnes of garbage from “Australia’s worst river”.

Ian Thompson, the founder and managing director of Ocean Crusaders, told Yahoo News Australia he and his crew spent 11 days cleaning the Cooks River in southeast Sydney.

Mr Thompson said the crew began after Sydney went through heavy rainfall and flooding earlier this month.

These trolleys were found in the bottom of the Cooks River. Source: Facebook/ Ocean Crusaders

Over 10 days, Ocean Crusaders removed 13.8 tonnes of garbage from the river. Rubbish included tennis balls, shopping trolleys, plastic bottles and other pieces of debris.

“We knew there was a significant amount in the river after we came down last year,” Mr Thompson said.

“We pulled 3.3 tonnes over three days. In one spot we came back a day later and there was more rubbish.

“It’s ridiculous.”

‘So disappointing’

People on Facebook were shocked by the sheer amount of “disgusting” rubbish found in Cooks River.

“Wow, what a sight,” one woman wrote.

Another woman added the garbage is “so disappointing”.

“How long will it take before we get the message to clean up after ourselves and give single use plastics the flick?”

More than 13 tonnes were removed from the river. Source: Facebook/ Ocean Crusaders

‘Fighting a losing cause’

Mr Thompson called Cooks River the “worst river in Australia I’ve seen”.

He ranked it just ahead of Melbourne’s Yarra River, but has also cleaned the Brisbane River.

“It’s not a pretty place,” he said.

“We’re fighting a losing cause.”

He added a full-time clean-up crew was needed to take care of the river but the responsibility to care for the waterway didn’t fall on the government.

Ian Thompson, from Ocean Crusaders, called the river 'Australia's worst'. Source: Facebook/ Ocean Crusaders

“We don’t expect them to come in and clean up our bedrooms,” he said.

“Cleaning up after ourselves is a no-brainer. Next time you’re out you should not only clean up after yourself but maybe take a little extra garbage someone else has left behind.

“Prevention is better than finding a cure.”

Mr Thompson said some people would blame the recent flooding on the messy river but he believes that’s not the case due to the shopping trolleys found.

Living, breathing and eating plastic

According to the World Wildlife Federation, Aussies use 130kg of plastic per person each year.

“More frightening still, up to 130,000 tonnes of plastic will find its way into our waterways and into the ocean,” WWF said.

Mr Thompson said people need to not only clean up after themselves but be willing to do extra and clean up after others. Source: Facebook/ Ocean Crusaders

Studies have also found once plastic is ingested by marine life it can end up in our food.

The study by New York-based think tank Dalberg and the University of Newcastle in NSW, found the average person could be ingesting 5g of plastic per week.

It found the “largest source of plastic ingestion” is in drinking water including groundwater, surface water, tap water and bottled water.

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