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Notice given 1 March 2002

155  Senator Greig: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment and Heritage—With reference to the Bellevue chemical fire in January 2001, and the claims made on Four Corners that toxins have leached into and contaminated soil and groundwater,  threatening Perth’s drinking water:

(1) Were uniform standards for hazardous waste storage areas ever drawn up and implemented, as recommended in the House of Representatives report, Hazardous Chemicals Waste: Storage, transport and disposal , dated 1982.

(2) Why did the Commonwealth not step in to legislate to control hazardous wastes to the fullest extent of its power when it became clear that the Western Australian State Government had failed to introduce effective waste disposal strategies,  as recommended in the report 20 years ago.

(3) How does the Commonwealth ensure its citizens are not threatened by poor record keeping, and poor storage and disposal of highly toxic chemicals.

(4) Is the Minister aware of the nearby toxic OMEX oil recycling site where the State Government planned to spend $7 million to protect freshwater supplies,  largely because of the potential impact of the site on groundwater resources.

(5) Given that the toxic disaster area at Bellevue remains one year on and the extent of the threat to water supplies has only just been revealed, will the Government step in and provide funds for the clean-up operation.

(6) Given that Australia is a signatory to the Stockholm Convention regarding storage, disposal, production and use of persistent organic pollutants, and given that Australia has recognised the need for a national approach with national standards for certain hazardous wastes, what practical steps has Australia taken to fulfil the aims of the Stockholm Convention.