Albury waste pollutes the Murray

September 4, 1991

By Warren Brierley

ALBURY — The NSW border city of Albury seems to be on the way to winning the Country Polluter of the Year Award for 1991. Not only have dangerous pollutants been discovered oozing from a city council waste dump, but a recent Greiner government decision to allow a newsprint brightening plant near the town may increase the risk of poisoning the Murray River, already overburdened with salinity.

According to a report in the August 27 Border Mail, dangerous pollutants, including lead, are escaping from the council's liquid waste dump and could pose a threat to the "fragile ecology of lagoons along the Murray River".

Cattle and sheep grazing near the dump may also be at risk from eating grass soaked in lead-laced oil.

According to the report, the State Pollution Control Commission has ordered closure of the dump by 1993, but council officers want more time to establish a safe alternative system.

A further potential threat to the Murray comes from the proposed newsprint brightening mill. According to South Australian left-wing ALP federal member Peter Duncan, the mill has been granted planning approval by the Greiner government "without effective capacity to control the run-off".

Duncan's comments came as he was moving a resolution condemning the mill at the SA Labor Party convention. He called on the convention to "vigorously oppose the building of the plant" and to "do everything in its power to oppose this example of environmental vandalism by the Greiner government".

Duncan's motion was lost when the SA environment minister, Susan Lenehan, said that the plant should be built because it would take 20,000 tonnes a year of the state's newsprint.

Residents of towns downstream from Albury have been signalling that they will not put up with further pollution of the Murray. A meeting of 150 at Barooga last week demanded that councils and industries be given until 1993 to stop using the river for domestic and industrial effluent.

The meeting also supported a resolution originating in Berrigan Shire which sets 2000 as the year by which all urban centres, industries and developments would have to provide off-river disposal of waste.

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