Opposition to toxic waste dump


By Coral Wynter and Kerry Vernon BRISBANE — Fifty people attended the opening of the Bayside Residents Against Toxic Site (Brats) information office at Pinkenba on February 17. Bayside residents have been campaigning for over 12 months against the siting of a toxic waste dump at Luggage Point, at the mouth of the Brisbane River. The proposed dump is "a thoughtless attempt to remedy the Willawong situation by shifting it somewhere else", said Robyn McDougall, president of BRATS. The Willawong Hazardous Waste Treatment Plant is earmarked for closure after a 10-year campaign by residents who suffered health problems and constant foul odours from the facility. Lord Mayor Jim Soorley has shrugged off complaints that the new site will put the environment of the Brisbane River and Moreton Bay at risk. BRATS believes toxic, carcinogenic and mutagenic substances will pose a risk to the community through a spill during transit, through ground water seepage or through treated sewerage. Opposition to a waste dump at Luggage Point is widespread. More than 200 people attended a public meeting in 1995, 5000 signing a petition, and the fishing industry, the Australian Medical Association and local, state and federal members of parliament oppose the dump. BRATS is standing Daryl Bertwistle, its vice president, as a candidate in the federal seat of Lilley. Ted Mailes, secretary of BRATS, said, "The information centre will give us a base to launch a strong coordinated campaign, and it will show the Brisbane City Council that we are serious". Biochemist Dr Coral Wynter, the Democratic Socialist candidate for Griffith, has condemned the proposal to site the toxic waste dump at Luggage Point. Alternative technology exists to deal with toxic waste and has been tested in the USA and Canada, but the main point, said Wynter, is that we have to stop toxic waste production. Companies producing toxic waste have to be doubly taxed until they introduce non-polluting technology.