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Greens arc up about health and environmental effects of the Mitchell fire

By johnboy - 19 September 2011 33

mitchell fire photo by James

The Greens’ Shane Rattenbury is asking some much needed questions about what exactly was spewed into the air on Friday during the Mitchell fire.

“The chemicals involved in this fire were polychlorinated biphenyls, known as PCBs, one of the chemicals banned under the Stockholm Convention on persistent organic pollutants. The burning of such chemicals can result in the release of dioxins and other chemicals which do not break down easily in the environment.

“The community needs clear information about which areas have been tested, what pollutants and by-products are being tested for and clear advice about the results.

“We also need to see a full inventory of all the chemicals that were at the site, and certainty that there weren’t other substances that went up in the fire.

“So many suburbs in the north part of Canberra were told to stay indoors and close their windows, and yet it’s unclear that there is any residue testing going outside of Mitchell itself.

“There also remains the question of particulate matter that may have spread outside the ACT’s borders – has the government taken action to communicate to our Palerang neighbours the possible risks?

“Canberra residents in affected suburbs need clear guidance about what to do in regards to rain water tanks, children’s outdoor play equipment and vegetable gardens in these areas.

I know I can report stinging mucous membranes and low level headaches on Friday, so something was about.

What’s Your opinion?


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33 Responses to
Greens arc up about health and environmental effects of the Mitchell fire
jessieduck 3:10 pm 19 Sep 11

I made the decision to take my small child out of Downer for the day at about 7am. I had to drive my husband to work anyway so it was just as easy to get what we needed for the day and get clear of the smoke. I just wasn’t happy to risk staying within a few km of the fire with his little lungs in my care.

creative_canberran 2:56 pm 19 Sep 11

EvanJames said :

This is why increasing numbers of voters are turning to the Greens.

An increasing number of voters are turning to The Greens because an increasing number of voters bring new meaning to the term “uninformed”. The Greens are a sham pure and simple. If they were legit, they would spend less time wining about far left socialist issues and more time pushing for real change. Where is the comprehensive, world class e-waste program Canberra should have?

creative_canberran 2:54 pm 19 Sep 11

Another question that needs to be asked is even if the planning authorities allowed the location to be used for this business, why was the volume of materials not restricted.

Anyone who knows about the Bhopal disaster will know that among the points highlighted was the significant volume of MIC (the toxic chemical released) that was stored in the tanks.

The reports I’ve seen state there was a one very large tank (100,000s of litres) and two smaller tanks (10,000s of litres) at this oil facility. Why were tanks holding this volume and why was there not more compartmentalisation?

EvanJames 2:39 pm 19 Sep 11

This is why increasing numbers of voters are turning to the Greens. The majors are so entrenched with big business interests and god-knows who else, that governing primarily for the people just doesn’t happen any more. Interestingly, Palerang Council which Rattenbury mentions now has three councillors who are members of the Greens party (and doing a damn fine job too).

Government should be protecting voters, the little guys, from big business and those who don’t want the little guys to interfere with their business of making a buck.

Deref 2:35 pm 19 Sep 11

A question I’d like to hear answered is WTF they were doing allowing PCBs to be stored in such close proximity to residential areas. I hear that the site had had previous fire callouts and that alarm bells had been ringing about the potential danger more than 12 months ago. I hope to see some heads on pikes along Northbourne Avenue, and soon.

Waiting For Godot 2:32 pm 19 Sep 11

The Greens concerned about health following the Mitchell fire?

I think we should be more concerned about the effect on the mental health of the community from the simplistic, naive and destructive policies being pushed by The Greens

Henry82 2:30 pm 19 Sep 11

Although i dislike the greens, i agree with what they’ve written. I also think the government needs to re-design this emergency sms system.

Thumper 2:21 pm 19 Sep 11

This is one of those issues that (anywhere other than in the ACT) could bring down a government

What? Like 2003 when 500 plus homes burnt down?

yellowsnow 2:01 pm 19 Sep 11

Gungahlin Al said :

There are a stack of questions that need to be answered that have stemmed from this incident.

I’ll bet for a start that none of the neighbouring businesses had any idea there was such a dangerous business next door.

Then there is the issue of residential zoning. When ACTPLA first released the precinct plans for Franklin in 2007 I raised concerns that it was not adequately buffered from the industrial estate. Fell on deaf ears. The land grab meant they pushed the suburb as close to Mitchell as they possibly could. And to make things worse ACTPLA then approved the greenwaste recycling centre on the actual Well Station Drive road reserve, making it even closer to Franklin houses, with the stick that often comes off that.

Later in 2007 I raised concerns that the redrafting of the Territory Plan did not adequately isolate high-level industrial uses from uses more appropriate for light industry/retail. I said they needed a Heavy Industry zone like most local governments have. Again deaf ears. So now we have a General Industry Zone where even Indoor Recreation, Community Use and Craft Workshop can be next door to this sort of place: http://www.legislation.act.gov.au/ni/2008-27/copy/77512/pdf/2008-27.pdf

We have two “industrial” estates (Mitchell and Fyshwick) that have been compromised by inappropriate uses. And only Hume is well-enough segregated from residential incursions – surely this incident will weigh heavily against Tralee?

So much more to say, but lunch time is over…

+1.

Hope you keep pushing them on this, Al. You too, ACT Greens if you’re listening.

This is one of those issues that (anywhere other than in the ACT) could bring down a government. Unfortunately here in Canberra we have a hopeless Opposition and a local newspaper that doesn’t know the meaning of investigative journalism or even critical thinking. It’s more interested in printing pro-Gillard puff pieces, regurgitating ACT government media releases and recycling articles from The Guardian.

yellowsnow 1:54 pm 19 Sep 11

Bluey said :

Pretty sure if Mitchell is residue free, everywhere will be fine. Stop being such a big girls blouse Shane.

One thing I’ve learnt over past decades is not take anything the government (any government anywhere, not just in ACT) says on matters like this at face value. It’s in their interest not to scare the community too much and expose themselves to legal liability in the future, and at any rate they don’t really know what the hell was released and what the long term health consequences might be.

It’s like Gallagher saying on the radio this morning that when planning Franklin all these issues around siting houses so close to industry were considered, and on balance it was decided that there was not a problem for houses and heavy industry to essentially be colocated. I doubt the process was that rational or informed by evidence (and if it was – epic fail in terms of outcomes). More likely the planning process went a little something like this: ‘well we can’t build over there because these weedy grasslands are protected and off limits from development, but over here we have some semi contaminated land next to dilapidated factories, yes let’s build suburbs here and call them “centrally located”, “close to facilities”, etc’.

Gungahlin Al 1:43 pm 19 Sep 11

There are a stack of questions that need to be answered that have stemmed from this incident.

I’ll bet for a start that none of the neighbouring businesses had any idea there was such a dangerous business next door.

Then there is the issue of residential zoning. When ACTPLA first released the precinct plans for Franklin in 2007 I raised concerns that it was not adequately buffered from the industrial estate. Fell on deaf ears. The land grab meant they pushed the suburb as close to Mitchell as they possibly could. And to make things worse ACTPLA then approved the greenwaste recycling centre on the actual Well Station Drive road reserve, making it even closer to Franklin houses, with the stick that often comes off that.

Later in 2007 I raised concerns that the redrafting of the Territory Plan did not adequately isolate high-level industrial uses from uses more appropriate for light industry/retail. I said they needed a Heavy Industry zone like most local governments have. Again deaf ears. So now we have a General Industry Zone where even Indoor Recreation, Community Use and Craft Workshop can be next door to this sort of place: http://www.legislation.act.gov.au/ni/2008-27/copy/77512/pdf/2008-27.pdf

We have two “industrial” estates (Mitchell and Fyshwick) that have been compromised by inappropriate uses. And only Hume is well-enough segregated from residential incursions – surely this incident will weigh heavily against Tralee?

So much more to say, but lunch time is over…

lizw 1:32 pm 19 Sep 11

I had a headache, burning throat and a couple of other issues, so we left home (Mitchell side of Palmerston) for some of the day. When we returned home, the symptoms did too, so we left again, arriving home later that evening. I agree with The Frots. We do need to know what was around.

Bluey 1:03 pm 19 Sep 11

Pretty sure if Mitchell is residue free, everywhere will be fine. Stop being such a big girls blouse Shane.

Dante 12:53 pm 19 Sep 11

I had much the same symptoms as johnboy on Friday after walking home to Braddon from the CBD after 5pm. Nothing requiring medical attention, but it was definitely noticed after getting out into the open air.

The Frots 12:44 pm 19 Sep 11

As much as the ‘Greens’ irritate me generally (like a dose of Ebola) I have to say we need to know exactly what was in that mess – and also what else is around there.

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