[ASC-media] $5 billion to clean up Australia's contaminated sites

Jenni Metcalfe jenni at econnect.com.au
Tue May 9 12:23:22 EST 2006

Wasteland clean up to cost billions

For immediate release, Tuesday 9 May
Cleaning up Australia's 100,000 contaminated sites will cost over $5 billion according to experts attending international environment management conference Enviro 06 Conference & Exhibition, in Melbourne this week.


Scientists claim there is an urgent need to protect the environment and public health from the effects of chemical and heavy metal contamination from sites in metropolitan and regional areas. Current policies to deal with the problem have been slow, inadequate and sometimes dangerous.


Past and present chemical plants, city dumps, smelters, ports and factories are among the thousands of sites that have spilled toxic waste into our soil, groundwater, rivers and estuaries. Despite considerable efforts to rehabilitate some of the worst sites, many remain hazardous to human health and the environment.


Sustainable and cost effective solutions such as bioremediation, risk assessment and advanced waste disposal technologies are needed according to visiting environmental scientist Dr Dennis Paustenbach, chief principal of the US company ChemRisk.  


"Contamination and assessment is a complex field, and involves more than just the simple application of science-based rules," he says. "The difficulty that arises is when our legal fraternity get involved, and the difficulty of resolving issues when there are large sums of money involved."


Dr Paustenbach will discuss at Enviro 06 how to use risk assessment to deal with contaminated sites, drawing on lessons learned from more than 50 sites in the US and elsewhere in the world.  


Also presenting is Professor Ravi Naidu, director of the Cooperative Research Centre for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment, based in Adelaide. Professor Naidu says many chemicals used by industry and farming in the past are still having ongoing harmful effects today.


"There may be major issues with possible arsenic contamination both in rural sites and high value land that can potentially make people sick," says Professor Naidu. "Any toxic substances that are present could lead into the groundwater" 


"We need to look at innovative technology for managing contamination and improved data to ensure the quality is based on science," says Naidu. He stresses it is vital that industries and researchers work together to extract value from waste, and work towards long-term solutions. Professor Naidu will discuss his research program at the upcoming Enviro 06 Conference & Exhibition being held at the Melbourne Conference & Exhibition Centre from 9-11 May 2006. Naidu's - research on arsenic poisoning in Bangladesh, India, and China, may have implications - in Australia.  


For interview: 

Dr. Ravi Naidu: Director, Cooperative Research Centre for Contamination Assessment & Remediation of the Environment (mob:  0407 720 257)

Dr. Dennis Paustenbach: dpaustenbach at chemrisk.com   - or through contacts below.

Enviro 06 website: www.enviroaust.net


Media assistance contact:

Jenni Metcalfe: 0408 551 866. jenni at econnect.com.au

Sarah Bartlett, 07 3846 7111, 0404 504 258, sarah at econnect.com.au

Jenni Metcalfe
Econnect Communication
PO Box 734
South Brisbane Q 4101

Ph. 07 3846 7111; 0408 551 866
jenni at econnect.com.au

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