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Hazardous chemicals and wastes

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A national scheme for the identification and evaluation of hazardous chemicals will be introduced in 1985. The Minister for Home Affairs and Environment, Mr Barry Cohen, said that his Department is finalising the proposed scheme in consultation with State Government authorities.

Under the proposed scheme, all new industrial chemicals will be assessed to determine their potential to damage health •or the environment. These assessments will provide the basis for appropriate action by Commonwealth and State authorities

to control hazards. *Chemicals already in use in Australia will also come within the scope of the scheme" Mr Cohen said. (.

"The scheme will play an important role in the implementation of the Commonwealth Government1s national strategy for occupational health and safety", Mr Cohen said. "At the present time there are tens of thousands of chemicals in use in Australia,

and for most of them very little is known about their toxicity, their potential for causing cancer, and other hazardous properties Mr Cohen said that the chemicals scheme was being developed in close consultation with the new National Occupational Health

and Safety Commission, on which State; Governments were represented

Mr Cohen also referred to the need for a national strategy for the management of hazardous wastes. Noting that the control of hazardous wastes was principally a matter for State Governments, Mr Cohen said that there were thousands of tonnes of intractable chemical wastes in storage' around Australia, and that the means would have to be found to dispose of them properly.

"Together with State environment Ministers I am considering the need for a national manifest system to track hazardous wastes from their creation to final disposal", Mr Cohen said. "I am also concerned that shipment of hazardous wastes from Australia for

incineration at facilities in Europe should be properly regulated"

Mr Cohen noted that earlier this year the Commonwealth Government had introduced a permit system to control the dumping of wastes at sea.

Inquiries: Mr D . Gascoigne (062) 467211