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Tuesday, 19 August 1980
Page: 417

Dr Everingham asked the Minister for Science and the Environment, upon notice, on IS April 1980:

(   1 ) Have any relevant studies been done (a) in Australia or (b) elsewhere to assess the environmental and social impact of the aluminium industry in Australia; if so what are they.

(2)   Have any steps been taken to monitor and control the concentrations and effects of heavy metal contamination of (a) air, (b) water, (c) soil and (d) organisms including seafoods as a result of aluminium smelting in Australia; if so, (i) what steps have been taken and (ii) what has been their cost to (a) governments and (b) the industry.

(3)   Have any steps been taken to assess before and after development of the world's largest aluminium smelter at Gladstone, Queensland, the levels of contaminants in the environment, including fluorine compounds; if so, what are they.

(4)   Is he able to state whether metal smelting industries have paid millions of dollars in compensation to farmers and graziers in the United States of America following requisition by courts of confidential assessment of fluorine compound contamination as assessed by the Kettering Institute of metal industries.

(5)   Is any fluorine compound monitoring undertaken in Australia; if so, what monitoring is undertaken.

Mr Thomson - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   Two environmental impact statements have been prepared under the Commonwealth Government's Environment Protection (Impact of Proposals) Act on the establishment in Australia of aluminium smelters at Gladstone in Queensland and Portland in Victoria by Comalco and Alcoa respectively. Both statements took into account the impact on the human environment. I have also directed environmental impact statements, which are now being prepared, in relation to proposed smelters in the Hunter Valley, NSW.

(2)   The monitoring and control of emissions from industry are essentially matters for State Governments, which have enacted relevant pollution control legislation. Heavy metal contamination is not normally associated with aluminium smelting and my Department is not aware of monitoring programs to monitor and control, heavy metal contaminations for smelters.

(3)   Yes. Ambient air quality was established prior to the construction of the Comalco smelter and a monitoring program was devised to meet State Government requirements. This program will be implemented when the smelter is commissioned.

(4)   No. Inquiries to the United States Environment Protection Agency and the Kettering Institute, have not substantiated any compensation payments of the kind indicated in the honourable member's question.

(5)   Yes. Fluoride monitoring is undertaken for the purpose of environmental protection and occupational health as required by the State Governments. The nature of the monitoring program adopted is dependent on the emitting industry involved and the environmental conditions and constraints which apply.

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