Saturday, June 10, 2017
The day after a public meeting to oppose development on a toxic site in a northern suburb of Melbourne, the developer put it up for sale on a real estate site, without any mention of the contamination. In Victoria, there is no legal requirement for the sellers of contaminated land, to indicate that a site is contaminated.
Local residents packed the Fawkner Senior Citizens Centre on May 11 to hear speakers about the issues around this toxic site.
Several of the older residents who attended the public meeting have family members who died of cancer that they suspect is linked to the operation of chemical company Nufarm on this site from 1957 to 1974. A cancer cluster was discovered in Fawkner and on the other side of Merri Creek at the Lakeside Secondary College.Nufarm manufactured DDT, arsenic, 2-4-D and 2-4-5-T, as well as Agent Orange, the pesticide that has destroyed the lives of generations of Vietnamese people after it was sprayed by the US army during the Vietnam War. When 24-D and 245-T are mixed together they form Agent Orange. A by-product of the process is dioxin, which is the most toxic element of Agent Orange.
The site was heavily contaminated with dioxins until it received a partial clean-up in the early 1990s.
The Western Region Environment Centre’s Harry van Moorst explained to the public meeting that dioxins are particularly dangerous: “They are carcinogenic. They create tumours. They possibly cause genetic mutation. They are also seen as possible teratogens, causing malformation of the embryo and they have massive effect on immune systems, central nervous systems and diabetes.
“Dioxins are one of those things that really affect your system as a whole. As a result it makes you vulnerable to a whole lot of other diseases and illnesses that aren’t necessarily attributed to dioxin but are attributable to the impact they’ve had on your immune system and nervous system. It makes you extremely vulnerable.”