Community facilities Health Speeches Agriculture Environment and Water | August 14, 2019

Kaniva Chemical Waste Dump Site

Victorian Parliament - 14 August 2019

Ms KEALY (Lowan) (19:04:21): (934) My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change. The action I seek is that the minister urgently and immediately direct the Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) to take action and clean up Victoria’s largest ever illegal toxic chemical waste dump, located near Kaniva in western Victoria, and to tell the Kaniva community when this will be completed. Earlier this month locals were appalled to learn through the media that Kaniva was home to an illegal dump of 50 million litres of toxic chemical waste buried just 60 metres from underground waterways. Even worse, the government had known about this massive toxic waste dump but had kept it secret from the Kaniva community for an entire year. It is simply unacceptable that the government took a year to brief not just locals but even other impacted government bodies, including the West Wimmera Shire Council and the Wimmera Catchment Management Authority. This is an absolutely unacceptable situation for any government agency, and the minister must accept her responsibility for this disgraceful neglect and refusal to address what could amount to a massive environmental disaster for our region. Further, when the EPA finally conducted a community meeting in Kaniva, locals were appalled that it appeared that the EPA had not even set foot on the property to ascertain the full scope of the dump. The EPA could not even tell locals how the chemicals are stored, what the chemicals are, how the waste will be removed safely or even how long it will be before it will all be removed and disposed of appropriately. It was stated to me by a producer with land near to the dump that the EPA were more interested in showing off their drones than actually getting on with cleaning up the mess. We do not need meetings to show off drone technology; we need immediate action to clean up the mess at Kaniva before this toxic waste leaks into waterways and threatens our crops, our reputation as a clean growing region with supreme-quality grains and the health of our people and our stock. At the very least the community deserves to know when the government will clean up the toxic waste dump, particularly when the owner of the property is well-known to the EPA. It is my understanding he already has huge clean-up bills, fines and clean-up obligations outstanding from at least nine additional huge waste dumps in Melbourne. The government are delusional if they think the owner of this property has any inclination to clean up the Kaniva waste site when he has not done so for other known waste dump sites or that he has the capacity to do so safely. The minister must recognise the extremely threatening situation this enormous waste dump poses for our region. Just because we are far from Melbourne that does not mean we are less important, and I refuse to accept our region being treated as the state’s toxic waste dump. I demand that the minister step up now and take action to clean up this mess. I therefore ask the minister to urgently and immediately take action to clean up Victoria’s largest illegal toxic chemical waste dump, in Kaniva, to tell the community when this site will be cleaned up and to save our waterways and our land from disastrous contamination before it is too late.

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