Reader response – Waste concerns

WE write with regard to the article titled ‘CCI kicks up a stink over waste treatment’ (WA Business News July 29 2006). Over the past few months, the Core Consultative Committee on Waste (3C) has faced criticism from a range of parties on the industry side of the process. When the 3C began the hazardous/industrial waste treatment precinct siting process more than three years ago, preliminary research identified only one stakeholder group in the Western Australian community that did not believe there were significant problems with hazardous waste management – existing hazardous waste treaters. It is hardly surprising then that Tox Free and TWM should now be claiming that the state’s hazardous waste problems, which they failed to acknowledge in the first place, have been fixed. Who are the “industry representatives” who believe that the 3C’s “deliberations have been dominated by environmental, community and unions group” and what are the mechanisms by which this has supposed to occur? Environmental, community and union representatives comprise only 40 per cent of the 3C’s membership and all recommendations the committee has made to government have been consensus decisions. The article also refers to a split between “industry and community and environment groups” on operational guidelines for hazardous waste treatment. In fact, the sole non-consensus view to emerge to date from the 3C is between industry representatives and all other 3C members (representing community/ environment groups, local government and unions). Claims that the 3C has “exceeded its mandate” are not stated explicitly, let alone substantiated. We believe that the 3C had been meticulous in sticking to its mandate and challenge anyone claiming the contrary to provided evidence. Also in the article, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry challenges the “logic of having hazardous wastes treated in precincts”; in so doing it is denying the core plank of the program the government commissioned the 3C to carry out. Based upon consensus recommendations from the 3C, the government adopted criteria for siting hazardous/industrial waste precincts. However, the “CCI strongly believes that Kwinana….Should be considered a suitable site”, even though it does not meet the government’s criteria. Does this mean that, if some in industry object, the government should just rip its rules? The CCI is also selective in its comments regarding the unsuitability of a Tox Free-nominated site, ignoring the following comments made in the 3C decision: “Correspondence from Tox Free dated 19 August 2005 indicates that if the site were endorsed as a precinct, the firm would be willing to relinquish the site to government subject to being permitted to operate an incinerator at the site. Tox Free also noted that in relinquishing the site they would then require the first right or refusal to the site and to undertake all proposed activities on the site with at least the same leasehold terms as they currently enjoy. “This would not be in accordance with the government’s acceptance of the 3C’s recommendation that incineration is unacceptable technology in hazardous/ industrial waste treatment precincts and their associated buffer zones. Nor would it provide potential competitors of Tox Free with equal opportunity to establish on the site.” In other words, the Tox Free nomination is incompatible with two fundamental principles underlying the establishment of precincts. One the 12 key principles of the 3C’s consultation protocol is to “share the responsibility for effective consultation with all who enter into the consultative process”. We regret needing to respond to claims of the type made in the WA Business News article which are not keeping with the principles that the 3C has striven to uphold throughout its stakeholder involvement program. By: Lee Bell, 3C co-chair and committee member. (Dave Munut, Steve Hesse, Jeff Williams, Jeff Munn = 3C committee members)

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