1969-71: Rogue batch of 2,4,5-T Dwellingup WA

Toxic dumping more widespread

P 5 The Australian Jan 15 2002

Australian history of dumping dangerous chemicals underground is far more widespread and involves more toxic substances than has been revealed in the current Agent Orange scandal, a former Environmental Protection Agency chairman has warned.

Barry Carbon, who has headed the EPA in two states as well as the federal environment agency, told The Australian, there were a lot more chemicals dumped in the late 1970s and early 1980s and it could become an “acute issue”. . . .

West Australian authorities are searching for any remaining stockpiles of the Agent Orange chemical 245T, which was imported between 1969 and 1971 and was believed to have been used by government workers in the Kimberley region and in the southern towns of Dwellingup.

Research by Australian National University professors Ben Selinger and Peter Hall revealed 20 years ago that 300 tonnes of the chemical which is believed to have come from Vietnam, was imported into Western Australia and Queensland. The chemicals were imported under the guise of fire damaged KTCP, the starter chemical to make 245T.

A tip-off to the scientists and subsequent tests showed the chemicals contained no KTCP but were 245T with dioxin poison levels 200 times the recommended levels at the time.

The sister of a former Queensland Forestry worker who died of leukemia has revealed her brother had complained to his family about a “bad batch” of 245T he was using during the mid 1970s. Susan Porter says her brother Dallas Guy said the poison they were using in the Beerwah area was strong and smelly. “He complained about a bad batch . . . they were complaining about the stench . . . but some were rubbing on their skin to keep mozzies away,” she said.

Former Kimberley weed sprayer Carl Drysdale has been lobbying for two decades for an investigation into the strange, sticky, black chemicals they were given to use between 1975 and 1985. Mr Drysdale and his workers believe the chemical has been responsible for a spate of premature deaths illnesses, miscarriages and birth defects.

A ministerial inquiry has been widened to investigate not only the health effects on the workers, but what chemicals were used and if any are still stockpiled in the state.