New alliance urges solutions for toxic facility

October 18 2004

An alliance of 10 peak conservation groups is calling on the State Government to find a new site for Victoria’s toxic waste facility, urging the Government to restore public confidence in the process.

The new “Alliance for Appropriate Management of Hazardous Waste” is opposing the siting of the facility at Hattah, near Mildura, because it contains old-growth vegetation home to threatened species in the two adjoining national parks.

A new and transparent consultation process was needed to find an alternative site and alternative technologies, it said.

The alliance said it supported the Government’s Industrial Waste policy but opposed Major Projects Victoria’s (MPV) implementation of the policy.

Alliance member and Executive Director of Environment Victoria Marcus Godinho said: “After nearly four years the process to find a site has been fraught. For too long the Government has hop-scotched from one community to the next in an attempt to find a location. It is now time for an open, transparent and consultative process with all stakeholders on both the siting and technology processes.

“Environment Victoria and our member groups are extremely concerned about the siting of the facility at Hattah because it is of high conservation value and because of the considerable distance of the facility from the main sources of hazardous waste,” he said.

Friends of the Earth Campaigns Director Cam Walker urged the Government to find an alternative site and abide by its promise to prevent hazardous waste being landfilled.
“The alliance considers the containment facility is simply another form of landfill,” said Mr Walker.

“The MPV paper discussing the technology for the site is almost another landfill proposal, rather than a containment proposal, and contrary to a Government commitment to abolish landfilling of prescribed waste.”

Victorian National Parks Association Director Charlie Sherwin said public confidence needed to be restored and a solution to Victoria’s toxic waste problems needed to be found.
“The way forward must be through a whole-of-government approach working with the environment movement, industry, local government and all stakeholders. We would like to help the Government with a review,” said Mr Sherwin.

The alliance said greater effort was needed to reduce waste generation at source.
“A waste facility is a necessary but short-term measure. In the long-term we must reduce the amount of waste we produce. Let’s insure the next facility is Victoria’s last,” said Mr Godinho.

Alliance members include: the Australian Conservation Foundation, Friends of the Earth, Victorian National Parks Association, Environment Victoria, The Wilderness Society, Birds Australia, National Toxic Network, Residents Against Toxic Waste in South East, Save the Foodbowl Alliance and Western Region Environment Centre.

Contacts:
Cam Walker,
Campaign Co-ordinator, Friends of the Earth,
Ph: 0419 338 049

Marcus Godinho,
Executive Director, Environment Victoria,
Ph: 9341 8119 or 0411 634 916

Charlie Sherwin, Director,
Victorian National Parks Association,
Ph: 9341 6504 or 0418 357813