Sunday, April 23, 2017

‘Agent Orange’ chemicals at old Nufarm site in Fawkner sparks worry over health risks

THE Environment Protection Authority will be asked to inspect a former pesticide factory site in Fawkner that is contaminated with chemicals found in Agent Orange.
Land at 100 and 102 McBryde St was formerly owned by Nufarm Ltd, which produced dioxins and herbicides using chemicals that are the chief ingredients in the substance first used by US troops to defoliate the jungle during the Vietnam War.
The council has referred a planning application for two warehouses on the site to the EPA, which has until Thursday to comment.
Moreland Council has also called on the EPA to examine a clay cap, placed over the soil in the mid 1990s to entrap the contaminants, to determine its condition.
A council report revealed high traces of the carcinogenic chemicals were found at the site after the Nufarm factory closed in 1990.
The report also showed a cancer cluster is believed to have existed in the area of McBryde, Percy and Bruce streets during operation of the factory.
The Herald Sun reported in June 1990 that 20 cancer deaths were recorded at 18 nearby homes.
Brian Snowden, who lives near the property, said he hoped planning permits for construction at the site would be rejected due to health risks.
“What the residents are saying is ‘It’s not on’,” Mr Snowden said.
“Nobody knows the status of this property and nobody has done anything on it since it was capped and sold off.”
An earlier permit application to build warehouses on the lot was denied in 2015, while three similar permits lapsed.
An EPA audit conducted in 1995 led to restrictions for the site, including the clay cap being maintained and a requirement that any soil excavated from deeper than half a metre be tested and disposed of within the authority’s guidelines.
EPA metro manager Daniel Hunt said the authority was yet to receive a request to inspect the clay cap, but was in discussions with the council and a resident.

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