1991 June: Nufarm North Laverton: 2,4-D Production and Dioxins

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Nufarm A Greenpeace Report June 1991 Executive Summary

This document documents the operations of Nufarm and the regulatory authorities. Nufarm is a pesticide company in North Laverton. In May 1990, Greenpeace revealed that Nufarm was discharging illegal levels of chlorinated phenols and high levels of dioxins and furans into the sewerage system.

What Was Found in Nufarm’s Effluent?

The Greenpeace action was taken following testing of samples of Nufarm’s effluent. The discharge sample was tested by National Analytical Laboratories and found to contain 1.4 parts per billion of the furan 2,3,7,8-TCDF. This level of 2,3,7,8-TCDF is equivalent to 143 parts per trillion of the dioxin, 2,3,7,8-TCDD, the substance used as the world standard for comparisons of dioxin/furan toxicity. As a point of comparison, 0.038 parts per trillion of this highly toxic compound in water is enough to start killing fish. (Mehrle PM. et al. 1988)

Nufarm’s effluent also contained chlorophenols, a group of chemicals that are the precursors for the manufacture of 2,4-D. Several different types of these chemicals were found, including dichlorophenol and trichlorophenol. The Greenpeace samples contained up to 5,000 parts per million of these substances, 100 times Nufarm’s allowed limit as set in their old Trade Waste Agreement (NAL Report, Greenpeace, April 1990).