Saboteurs at Coode Island?

October 23, 1991

Saboteurs at Coode Island?

By Kate Tregarthen and Dave Mizon

MELBOURNE — Police claim they have evidence suggesting that the August 21 and 22 explosions and fires at Coode Island, which caused a toxic smoke plume to drift over the city, were caused by sabotage.

While remaining tight-lipped about the nature of this evidence, police have cast suspicion on environment groups, saying that they are concerned about the "influence in Australia of US radical environment groups, who advocate criminal damage and vandalism to push their causes".

Paul Adams, an activist from the Hazardous Materials Action Group, told Green Left that it was "highly inflammatory for the police to suggest that the saboteurs, if they do exist, were protesting over safety issues". He said that the "innuendoes create a climate of suspicion where environment groups can be harassed, their civil liberties denied".

A private consultant's report in 1985 warned about sabotage. If security is a real issue, then everyone has known for a long time that it could be breached and nothing was done. Adams commented, "What we do know for sure is that safety is poor, that fire-fighting equipment is substandard and that having the facility here is more a problem than ever". n

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