Push for toxic zone health study

Suez toxic waste dump in Lyndhurst is part of the controversial industry 2 zone. 228738_01 Picrure: GARY SISSONS

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

Greater Dandenong councillor Jim Memeti is proposing a high-level taskforce to urgently investigate human health impacts posed by Dandenong South’s toxic industry zone.

Cr Memeti said there were long-held community concerns of higher than normal birth deformities, infertility and breathing problems in Dandenong South.

In the past year, Keysborough South residents have complained of noxious stenches and an impending waste-to-energy plant in Ordish Road.

“First as a councillor I want to protect the community,” Cr Memeti said.

“We’ve got to make the community feel safe.

“Living near an industrial 2 zone is clearly harmful. Many companies are doing the right thing, but there are some that aren’t – that’s not just here but in Australia and around the world.

“Let’s do the work and do an investigation so we’ve got it writing and got the proper evidence.”

Cr Memeti recently proposed the council lobby the State Government to rezone the industrial 2 zone – one of only two in the state.

In a future notice of motion, the four-time mayor proposes the state’s Department of Health and the Environment Protection Authority form a human health taskforce.

The group would also include councillors, council executive, DWELP and state and federal MPs.

It would set the parameters for an investigation to report on air and water emission levels and their impact on nearby residents.

The expert recommendations would be directly reported to the council.

In 2011, a health department report – at the behest of Greater Dandenong – investigated a possible cluster of cancers and birth defects in the area.

Cr Memeti said the report – which found no clusters – was flawed.

Its survey catchment included suburbs such as Dandenong North – which were well beyond the impact zone.

It failed to take account of readings from an EPA air monitoring program which was on line the following year.

Further, the findings weren’t presented in much detail to the public or the council, Cr Memeti said.

Since then, industries such as waste processing and recycling had intensified in the zone – which is also home to the state’s only toxic waste dump.

“Residents have raised this with me so many times. They say they don’t feel safe.

“I want a report that’s more open and transparent.

“Hopefully something like this will give them peace of mind.”