Plantation Company Must Not Pollute Geelong's Drinking Water

October 9, 2002

Environmental organisation Friends of the Earth today raised concerns about the possible contamination of Geelong's water supply, through the activities of US owned Hancock Victorian Plantations.

Spokesperson for Friends of the Earth, Anthony Amis said today that "Hancock have been very busy logging the surrounds of Korweinguboora Reservoir in the upper East Moorabool catchment. Water from this reservoir is used by Geelong residents as drinking water."

Mr Amis added " after logging, aerial application of herbicides and fertilisers is almost always carried out by the company. From information we have received, the herbicides simazine, hexazinone, metsulfuron methyl and roundup could be spayed in the reservoir surrounds. Further research by Friends of the Earth has also revealed that fertilisers used by the company could be sourced from industrial waste produced in Queensland".

The risks of water being polluted by plantation companies is very possible. In 1997-8 Adelaide's water supply was contaminated by Forestry South Australia after they spayed pine plantations in the Mount Lofty Ranges. Traces of the herbicides Atrazine and Hexazinone were detected in reservoirs supplying 50,000 people with drinking water. In 1993 Ballarat and surrounding areas were accidently poisoned with hexazinone during a pine plantation spraying event. "People's health was very likely effected by these 'accidents'" said Mr Amis.

"Friends of the Earth has real concerns that pollution of the Korweinguboora Reservoir could eventuate. Logging is likely to continue in this catchment for several years meaning that the possibility of overspraying or mishap is very real" said Mr Amis.

"Friends of the Earth urges Hancock to publicly release all details of the herbicides and fertilisers that the company will use this year and the following years in the Korweinguboora Reservoir area. It is totally inappropriate that this company could be playing around with the health of Geelong residents" said Mr Amis. "Friends of the Earth calls for the total elimination of herbicides and fertilisers used near this reservoir" said Mr Amis. The fact that these toxics could be sprayed aerially will increase the risk of pollution" Mr Amis concluded.

For further information contact:

Anthony Amis
Ph: (03) 9419 8700 or (03) 9809 1847