Toxic waste dump in Melbourne

Wednesday, November 8, 2000

BY STEVE SHEPHERD

MELBOURNE — For anyone who's ever wondered what happens to all the toxic waste produced by the global corporations operating in Australia, there is a disturbing answer.

It seems a substantial proportion is simply being dumped in a rubbish tip in Melbourne's south-eastern suburbs, at a site known as the Lyndhurst land fill, operated by the multinational Pacific Waste Management Australia.

Occupying 180 acres in one of Melbourne's fastest-growing residential corridors, the Lyndhurst land fill is the largest toxic waste tip in Victoria and is almost double the size of what was proposed for Werribee. Like Werribee, serious questions have been raised as to what effect the toxic dump is having on local families, some of whom live only 25 metres from the site's boundary.

There are also market gardens nearby, some of which produce organically grown vegetables using water from the same catchment area as the dump.

Residents up to several kilometres away have suffered unexplained illnesses and complained of respiratory problems. Residents tell of foul odours emanating from the tip, mostly at night, with no explanation from the tip's management as to what chemicals are responsible for the smell.

The local Cranbourne Independent has reported that six workers at the toxic dump became sick while handling waste on two separate occasions in June and July. The workers complained of headaches and nausea and one was hospitalised with breathing difficulties. WorkCover and Environmental Protection Agency investigations have been unable to establish the cause of these illnesses.

Pacific Waste Management has since lodged an application with the EPA to increase the scale of its operations by seeking a height-extension of 11 metres on the landfill, but it refused to return phone calls seeking comment on the application or dump's health impact.

The local residents group, RATWISE (Residents Against Toxic Waste in the South East), is calling for an Environmental Impact Study to be carried out prior to the proposed extension being considered.

For further information, contact RATWISE convenor Robyn Thompson on (03) 5996 7036.