Media Release

Whyalla Red Dust pollution – Where is the Health Minister?

07/01/2006 11:00 am

“The release of EPA figures showing 30 exceedances of health-based dust standards in East Whyalla should have alarm bells ringing in the Health Minister’s office,” says Greens candidate and environmental lawyer, Mark Parnell.

“As Environment Minister, John Hill allowed the EPA to be neutered. Now, as Health Minister, John Hill is responsible for ensuring that the people of East Whyalla are protected from harmful industrial pollution. Will he fail again?”, asks Mark Parnell.

“John Hill needs to come out publicly and tell the people of East Whyalla how their health is being affected and what the Health Department is doing about it. The Minister’s staff have already testified in open Court about health concerns over dust pollution in Whyalla [Dr Ted Maynard, 23rd March 2005, ERD Court, OneSteel v. EPA]. According to Dr Maynard, 95% of studies from around the world show an adverse relationship between dust pollution and human health.”

“The EPA monitoring station where the results were taken is directly across the street from the Whyalla Town Primary School. Fortunately, the recent huge dust episode was during the school holidays, however an earlier massive exceedance over 5 consecutive days in March 2005 was during school time. On that occasion, OneSteel spewed its entire annual quota of dust over East Whyalla in just one week. The December exceedances were nearly as bad with 4 consecutive days over the health limit.”

The dust from OneSteel’s operations is now worse than ever, with new dust sources emerging to replace those promised to be fixed by 2008.

Late last year, the Government and Liberal opposition joined forces to neuter the EPA and remove all measurable dust standards from OneSteel’s pollution licence. This means that the company is no longer accountable for the massive dust exceedances recorded in the last week of 2005.

Greens candidate, Mark Parnell, is an environmental lawyer who has represented the Whyalla Red Dust Action Group Inc. in over 20 appearances in the Environment Court and the Supreme Court. The case continues.

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