Despite appearances, the federal government is continuing to drag its feet on stopping the export of toxic waste to poor countries, reports Patrick McDonald.
Australia’s waste disposal crisis is set to worsen with other Asian countries following in China’s footsteps and banning imports of recyclables.
About 60 anti-uranium protesters set up a bonfire in the middle of the road leading to Olympic Dam, in South Australia, stopping all traffic in and out of the BHP Billiton uranium mine for about 19 hours on July 3. Olympic Way was also closed for about 90 minutes on July 2 as about 200 demonstrators undertook a funeral procession, carrying a black coffin and baskets of animal bones to the gates of Olympic Dam. The protest was organised by Desert Liberation Front, which opposes toxic waste dumps in Australia and wants BHP Billiton's uranium mine to be closed within two years.
Wong Tack, the chairperson of the Himpunan Hijau (Green Assembly) environmental group which has been campaigning against the Australian company Lynas' toxic rare earth refinery in Malaysia, was manhandled and pushed up against a wall by security personnel when his group peacefully protested at the "Australia Day" celebration held in Kuala Lumpur on January 22. READ MORE: 'A million Malaysians say shut polluter Lynas' The invitation-only event was hosted by the Australian High Commission and was attended by Lynas executives.
Lynas, an Australian mining company, is building a rare earth refinery close to the heavily populated area city of Kuantan in Malaysia. The ore is to be shipped from a mine in Western Australia but the highly toxic and radioactive waste which the refinery will produce will not be accepted back by the WA government.