No to waste

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Front Page - BY DEAN LAW­SON

Agrow­ing waste-dis­posal dilemma un­fold­ing across Aus­tralia has sparked Mem­ber for Lowan Emma Kealy to de­clare the re­gion off lim­its as a po­ten­tial ‘Mel­bourne dump­ing ground’.

Ms Kealy said she would fiercely op­pose any State Gov­ern­ment moves to tar­get western Vic­to­ria for sim­ple land­fill dumps to cope with the grow­ing city waste cri­sis.

She said she in­stead wanted the gov­ern­ment to ‘do its job, take a tough and press­ing is­sue by the horns’ and come up with a so­lu­tion that worked for all Vic­to­ri­ans.

Ms Kealy agreed her move rep­re­sented a pre-emp­tive po­si­tion, with­out any in­di­ca­tion the gov­ern­ment would look to the re­gions for some­where to dis­pose its grow­ing moun­tains of re­cy­clable ma­te­rial.

“I’m mak­ing sure we get in first with this. It is not hard to see land­fill space quickly be­com­ing a prob­lem in Mel­bourne and I’m de­ter­mined to make sure we don’t be­come a dump­ing ground for some­one else’s rub­bish,” she said.

“The Wim­mera, Mallee and Western Dis­trict, as well as sup­port­ing vi­brant and healthy com­mu­ni­ties, makes up a large per­cent­age of the state’s food bowl.

“We can ill-af­ford to risk con­tam­i­nat­ing soil and wa­ter re­sources with large-scale dump­ing, es­pe­cially with petro-chem­i­cal plas­tic waste.”

Ms Kealy, a qual­i­fied bio-med­i­cal sci­en­tist, said she had al­ready been hor­ri­fied with what might have oc­curred had a mas­sive il­licit toxic-waste dump at Kaniva re­mained undis­cov­ered.

“Es­ti­mates are that 50-mil­lion litres of toxic waste has been dumped at the Kaniva site, pos­ing a po­ten­tial threat to hu­man health, crop­ping land and a crit­i­cally im­por­tant un­der­ground wa­ter sup­ply,” she said.

“This was ob­vi­ously some­thing done by some­one il­le­gally and the La­bor gov­ern­ment un­jus­ti­fi­ably kept this a se­cret from lo­cals for more than a year. Now, peo­ple are un­der­stand­ably ner­vous, es­pe­cially when they keep hear­ing that pre­vi­ously re­cy­clable waste in our cap­i­tal city will soon have nowhere to go.”

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A de­ci­sion by China and then other coun­tries to in­tro­duce tougher stan­dards in ac­cept­ing re­cy­clable waste from Aus­tralia and a glut of ma­te­rial, much of it long-lived ev­ery­day con­sum­able petro-chem­i­cal plas­tic, is at the heart of the waste dilemma.

Vic­to­rian op­er­a­tions of Aus­tralian re­cy­cling com­pany SKM, re­spon­si­ble for pro­cess­ing re­cy­clable waste for 30 mu­nic­i­pal coun­cils, col­lapsed ear­lier this month. In Mel­bourne and Gee­long, trucks full of ma­te­rial pre­vi­ously des­tined for re­cy­cling have been lin­ing up to dump loads at land­fill sites.

Ms Kealy said Vic­to­ri­ans over the years had be­come well ed­u­cated about the need to and ben­e­fits of re­cy­cling and many were out­stand­ing at sep­a­rat­ing their rub­bish for col­lec­tion.

“Ev­ery­day peo­ple are more con­scious than they have ever been about the im­pact rub­bish can have on their en­vi­ron­ment and make enor­mous ef­forts to recycle,” she said.

“But they need gov­ern­ment ideas, ac­tion and guar­an­tees their re­cy­cling ef­forts are worth the ef­fort.”

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