[ASC-media] Media release: clean up contamination, govts told

JCA Media jcamedia at starclass.com.au
Tue Feb 1 22:57:00 EST 2005

CRC CARE Media Release 05/01

February 2, 2005


Leading environmental scientists are urging Federal, State and Local governments to give high priority to cleaning up the threat to the nation's health posed by its legacy of contaminated sites.

At the same time, they say, Australia could generate up to $1.8 billion in new economic activity by 2015 - including a new export industry - from environmental clean-up.

Our land, water, food and air are at risk from 100,000 potentially contaminated sites in cities and regional areas, while more are still being created, say researchers in the new CRC CARE - the Cooperative Research Centre for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment. The CRC has been set up under the leadership of the University of South Australia.

"Unless we take action now, the environmental contamination created by our own and previous generations will become a toxic legacy for Australians far into the future," warns CRC CARE chief executive Professor Ravi Naidu.

"There is a growing appreciation by science that the increasing incidence of cancers and degenerative diseases in the population may, in part, be linked to the rising prevalence of chemical and biological contamination of our soils, water and air," he says.

Professor Naidu is urging a nationwide focus on the issue, to make Australia the first nation in the world to assess and make safe all its contaminated sites.

"The new CRC CARE represents a $115 million investment by Australia in establishing a global lead in this field. It is a partnership of industry, science and government unlike any other round the world.  

"It is dedicated to hammering out the best and most cost-effective solutions to the problems which confront us and, indeed, all societies," he says.

Its work will include:
"	assessing contamination risks in land, groundwater and air,
"	developing technologies for remediating contaminated land and water;
"	developing safe options for land use and the reuse of wastes on land;
"	developing tools for monitoring of chemicals in soil, water and air;
"	helping to develop world best regulation for assessing and remediating sites.

CRC CARE will also develop tools for sensitive monitoring and technologies for decontaminating land and water following chemical or biological attacks, should these occur in Australia.  

It is also a case of generating large economic returns and new jobs for the future, Professor Naidu says.

"We estimate that carrying out contamination assessment and remediation on old industrial land in Australian cities will create an economic benefit of between $540 million and $1.8 billion by 2015, through direct savings in remediation costs and an increase in decontaminated land values."

Australia presently has a chronic shortage of skills for dealing with environmental contamination and one of the goals of the new CRC is to develop a generation of young Australians expert at solving and preventing it, to work in industry and government.

On these, and on the many new companies which are now starting to emerge in the clean-up area, a new industry is being born with a strong export focus, he says. With an estimated 3 million contaminated sites in Asia, the opportunity for exports of technology and expertise is huge.

Among CRC CARE's goals are:
"	Cleaner, safer food supplies, water supplies and living conditions
"	A reduced toll of chronic degenerative disease due to toxic contamination of our biosphere
"	Benefits of $540m-1.8bn year from direct savings in remediation and improved clean land values
"	A greatly enhanced natural environment for Australia and its neighbours
"	A new export industry in environmental risk-assessment and clean-up technology and skills 

The new CRC's partners span Australian industry, academics and government. They include: Agilent Technologies PL; Alcoa Australia; Australian Institute of Petroleum; Capital Technic Group Ltd; Chemistry Centre;CHM2mHill; Coffey Geoscience; Curtin University; Commonwealth Department of Defence; Department of Primary Industries, Victoria; Environmental Protection Authority of SA; Environmental Protection Authority of Victoria; Gutteridge Haskins Davey; HLM Asia Capital Ltd; IT Environmental (Aust.) PL; Rio Tinto Ltd; Sensoron Corporation; Southern Cross University; The University of Queensland; The University of South Australia; URLC Victoria; WA Department of the Environment; Worsley Alumina.

The Adelaide-based CRC CARE was given the green light in the latest round of CRC's announced by the Federal Government on December 21, 2004.

It has total funding of $115m over seven years, of which $30m is from the Commonwealth under its CRC Program, $50m from industry and the remainder 'in kind' contributions from various companies and agencies.

For more information and media interviews:

Professor Ravi Naidu, CRC CARE, 08 8302 5041 or 0407 720 257
ravi.naidu at unisa.edu.au

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