2014 May: Residents Fight Plans for $100m Pesticide Plant at Lara. Pesticide: Paraquat

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By NOEL MURPHYSource: http://geelongindy.com.au/indy/2014-05-29/residents-fight-plans-for-100m-pesticide-plant-at-lara/

TWO hundred anxious Lara residents have petitioned City Hall over a new pesticide plant expected to generate 45 jobs and $100 million a year for the local economy.
The Accensi plant, with separate sites on McManus and Broderick Rds, is set to open by November in City Hall’s Geelong Ring Road Employment Precinct.
But Lara Resident Action Group has lashed out at a lack of notification about the chemical plant to 50 households within a kilometre of the site.
The group also voiced fears about safety and environment regulations for the project.
Spokesman Rob Leonard said residents in the dark about the pesticides to be manufactured feared they might include Paraquat, banned in 32 other countries.
“Residents are more than disturbed, they’re up in arms,” Mr Leonard said.
“They’re worrying about property values, about their kids’ health, everyone’s health. A chemical plant like this is making Lara feel unsafe to live in.
“If it leaks it will go into the water drainage system next door. If it’s airborne it will go over schools.”
Mr Leonard released a letter to City Hall from WorkSafe major hazards manager Geoff Cooke, explaning WorkSafe’s opinion that Paraquatm“should be classified as very toxic”.
However, the letter said Accensi believed Paraquat should be classified as toxic, meaning the proposed facility “would be beblow the major hazard threshold”.
The petion said the signatories understood they lived next to Industrial 2-zoned land, so they had “an expectation of industrial-type development”..
“But it is of deep concern to us that there has been an approval of a chemical plant within 200 to 1000 metres of our properties without any notification.
“Some of our dwellings/properties are within 200 metres of the proposed development site and still no notification was/has been received.”
City Hall planning and tourism general manager Peter Bettess said zoning made Accensi’s site exempt from objection and appeal rights.
The Independent was unable to obtain comment from Accensi.