Paper pulp turns Shoalhaven River white in 1971

WHITE OUT: Paper pulp whitened the Shoalhaven River in 1971 as far as the Nowra Bridge. Photo: Shoalhaven Historical Society.
WHITE OUT: Paper pulp whitened the Shoalhaven River in 1971 as far as the Nowra Bridge. Photo: Shoalhaven Historical Society.

With river pollution in the Shoalhaven in the headlines recently, the Shoalhaven Historical Society has wound the clock back to the Paper Mill spill of 1971. 

According to the News Leader on June 30, 1971, an irate resident contacted the paper complaining of the pollution. Paper pulp was piped into the river on an incoming tide and a strip about 50 yards wide spread up the northern bank. 

The area at the rear was almost completely white and darkened in colour as the pulp mixed with water further up the river. By midday the tide had carried the pulp as far as the Nowra Bridge. 

A spokesperson for the Wiggins Teape Paper Mill told the paper he could think of no reason why it had happened but paper manufacturers said the pulp was not harmful to marine life.

Mill effluent was pumped continually into the river normally but not usually very prominent.