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Groote Eylandt oil spill: company comments more cause for concern: Democrats

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Senator Meg Lees Australian Democrats Deputy Leader and Environment Spokesperson

October 11,1996_________ M EDIA R E LE A S E__________ '_______ 96/650

GROOTE EYLANDT OIL SPILL Company comments more cause for concern: Democrats

Comments by BHP Gemco today heightened Australian Democrat fears the company may have been paid the diesel fuel rebate for millions of litres of oil, leaking from tanks at the company's Groote Eylandt manganese mine.

Democrats Environment Spokesperson Senator Meg Lees feared this case could be the tip of the iceberg and wanted to know how many companies may have been paid the rebate for lost oil.

"The Australian public would be outraged to think they may - through the rebate - be subsidising pollution, either on Groote Eylandt or anywhere else," Senator Lees said.

On today's World Today program, BHP Gemco Human Resources Manager John Casey, when asked if Gemco would repay the diesel fuel rebate on any oil it could not pump from the ground, said: "That's a question that we'll have to address at that time if it arises".

"Could this be Government-subsidised pollution?" Senator Lees said.

"How many companies are out there who have been paid the diesel fuel rebate on oil which may be polluting the land, our rivers or the marine environment?

"Gemco says it has regained only 600,000 litres of an admitted three million litres spilt - that's plenty of oil left to be accounted for.

"Resource Minister Parer must answer once and for all whether BHP Gemco or any other company have been paid the rebate on lost oil. He must be sure they not only clean up the pollution but pay back any monies rebated incorrectly.

"So far, the response from the Minister has been poor. We want answers now on this extraordinary situation."

To arrange comment contact Kelly Westell on (06) 277 3765 or contact Senator Lees on 0418 804 505.

Attached: transcript of "The World Today" COMMONWEALTH

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