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Issue #1484      8 December 2010

Denmark refuses to handle Australian toxic waste

The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) national secretary and president of the International Transport Workers’ Federation, Paddy Crumlin, has congratulated the Danish government for refusing to accept toxic waste shipments from Australia after unions repeatedly voiced concern over the plan.

Mr Crumlin said the Danish decision was a victory for common sense over the scheme to load the hazardous chemical waste from the Orica site at Port Botany and ship it for disposal in Denmark.

On behalf of the drivers at the Australian end of the operation, State secretary of the Transport Workers Union, Wayne Forno, said: “Ensuring that risk assessment is carried out on the driving route and risks associated with it for our drivers, we support the MUA in totality.”

Mr Crumlin added: “There needs to be a long-term solution thought out for this issue. It is not good enough to ship hazardous chemical waste around the globe – there are enormous risks involved.”

Mr Crumlin also said Orica had confirmed that it would be required to accept the return of the waste if it was not destroyed for any reason. He said the Beluga Fascination, currently berthed at Port Botany, had been chartered to transport the waste to Denmark.

“First and foremost we need greater assurance that there is absolutely no risk to the health and safety of our members in loading this cargo, those transporting it and others unloading it at the conclusion of its journey,” Mr Crumlin said.

“This is particularly important given we risk having to double handle the cargo. Dock workers in Denmark are currently exercising their right to refuse to unload the goods at the other end of the journey.

“MUA workers will not load the cargo if we risk having to unload it again in a few months time. A worse scenario still, the Beluga Fascination could face the prospect of sailing the globe searching in vain for a port that will accept the cargo.”

Mr Crumlin said there had been numerous cases of ships laden with toxic material, traipsing the globe for a port that will accept their load in recent years.  

Next article – MasterChef urged to chop Lilydale Chicken

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