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Tuesday, 17 August 1993
Page: 94

(Question No. 112)

Senator Ian Macdonald asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment, Sport and Territories, upon notice, on 11 May 1993:

  (1) Has the department at any time been consulted regarding toxic and or radioactive waste dumps at:

  (a) Gurulmundi near Miles in Queensland;

  (b) Esk in the Brisbane Valley in Queensland;

  (c) Gladstone, Townsville and Mount Isa in Queensland; and

  (d) any other locality in Queensland.

  (2) If the Government has not been consulted, has the Government conducted any studies or done any work or had any investigations carried out in relation to toxic and or radioactive waste dumps at all or in any of the above sites.

  (3) What are the details of the form of consultation and investigation carried out and of the advice given or results of such consultations and investigations.

Senator Schacht —The Minister for the Environment, Sport and Territories has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

  With regard to toxic wastes:

  (1) (a) Yes; (b) No; (c) No; (d) No.

  The Minister for Resources has Commonwealth responsibility for radioactive waste repositories. He has advised me as follows with regard to radioactive waste policy:

  (1) (a) No.

  (b) Esk has been selected by the Queensland Government as a site for an interim radioactive waste storage facility. The management of radioactive waste generated within Queensland's jurisdiction is a matter for the Queensland Government.

  (c) Mount Isa. The Mount Isa Development Strategy Group is investigating a number of economic development options for Mount Isa. One of the options being investigated is a national radioactive waste repository. The Department of Primary Industries and Energy has provided the Group with advice on matters discussed in the Public Discussion Paper, A Radioactive Waste Repository for Australia: Methods for Choosing the Right Site, released by the Minister for Primary Industries and Energy in October 1992.

  (d) No.

  (2) N/A for toxic wastes. For radioactive wastes, the Department of Primary Industries and Energy has not conducted studies or investigations at the sites referred to in (b) and (c) above.

  (3) With respect to 1 (a), Gurulmundi, my department has been asked for comments in general correspondence and it has spoken from time to time with the Queensland Government and the Murilla Shire Council. I have exchanged letters with the responsible Queensland Minister on the importance of the Queensland assessment process taking into account a full range of potential environmental impacts including those associated with the management of groundwater.

  My department has been advised by the Queensland Government that legislation has been prepared specifically on the Gurulmundi landfill. This is the Gurulmundi Secure Landfill Agreement Act 1992 which sets up a Landfill Management Committee with representatives from the Murilla Shire Council, the Brisbane City Council (which will operate the landfill) and the State Government. Under the legislation there is to be an environmental monitoring program. Monitoring will include collecting baseline data before the landfill begins operation.

  The Murray-Darling Basin Commission was also informed regarding correspondence my department received on the Queensland EIS. The Commission has written to the Queensland Government advising of its interest that all appropriate environmental measures be taken.

  My department has been advised by the Australian Geological Survey Organisation that, at the request of the Director of the Queensland Bureau of Emergency Services, the Bureau of Mineral Resources (BMR) carried out an investigation of the geological Stratigraphy of the Proposed Site in September 1991. The full text of that BMR report, together with other (non-BMR) investigation results, was included as an Appendix to the Gurulmundi Final Impact Assessment Study Report released by the Queensland Government in October 1991.

  As the Commonwealth Government is not directly involved in the establishment of a toxic waste landfill at Gurulmundi it would be appropriate to seek any further information on this from the Queensland Government.