Microsoft PowerPoint Lee Bell The Community

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					The Community and Hazardous

Lee Bell BA MA (Ecologically Sustainable Development)
         My various hats…
• Spokesperson for the Contaminated Sites
• Adviser to Greenpeace Australia-Pacific on toxics
• NECF rep on toxics issues for Federal processes
• Occasional lecturer on science, policy and
democracy issues at Murdoch University.
• Co-Chair of the Core Consultative Committee on
Waste. Providing advice to government on new
and better hazardous waste treatment facilities for
                       What we do
Provide strategic advice to
community groups grappling
• Contaminated sites
• Industrial emissions
• Workplace exposures
• Biocide use
• Promote environmental
justice through reform of
environmental health policy
   The ongoing problem…

 Controversy over hazardous waste is
not simply a rational technical problem
  or a ‘science problem’ because it is
     located within a socio-political
     landscape that dictates what is
  acceptable in our community. This
           changes with time.
    The barrier to solutions
A fundamental disconnect between science,
   policy and democracy in a chemically
        contaminated environment.
The Dark Art of Risk Assessment
  We currently have a policy framework for
 chemical products and wastes that asks how
much of a single chemical can a human tolerate?
 What we should be asking as a society is do we
 really need this chemical (are there non-toxic
   alternatives) or how do we prevent it from
    entering the community? (in the case of
               contaminated sites).
1 in a million – The myth of
       acceptable risk.
  Risk that is imposed by others for the profit of
   others is rarely considered acceptable risk!

When parents living on the fence line of a contaminated
site notice their children develop rashes, blood noses and
breathing problems whenever dust blows off the site – the
most common institutional response is to conduct a health
risk assessment and assure the family that the risk is
acceptable. This is where the parent’s hermeneutic world
and HRA’s theoretical world collide. The result is
ongoing socio-political conflict.
   New risks – old assessments
Recent discoveries about the behaviour of chemicals
create unacceptable uncertainty in traditional toxicology
based health risk assessments.

                Traditional RA does not:
• assess chemical mixtures which is the norm in real life.
• assess the endocrine disruption potential of single or
multiple chemicals.
• focus on the potential for, immune system dysfunction
(both hyper and hypo-active); neurological, cognitive and
behavioural effects; reproductive dysfunctions and chronic
Toward Solutions - Science
• Reduced reliance of QRA/HRA in favour of clinical
epidemiology and alternatives assessment.
• Full disclosure of the limitations and uncertainty
inherent in the environmental science and risk
assessment paradigm.
• Improved medical recognition of adverse chemical
impacts and training in standardized diagnostic
protocols for chemical injury.
     Toward Solutions – Policy
   • Mandated clean production standards (processes).
• Mandated industrial design responsibility (products).
• Reverse onus of proof in safety assessment for new and
existing chemicals.
• Hazardous Waste regulation and enforcement serving
the public interest not vested interests.
Toward solutions - Democracy

Stronger participatory processes for the public in:
• Planning matters that affect environmental health and
may lead to environmental injustice.
• Environmental assessments for new and existing
proposals (to prevent problems from arising).
• Community consultation over contaminated sites and
controversial industrial emissions (to help solve existing
Toward solutions - Democracy
• The community requires strong Right To Know
Legislation to allow public access to all industrial risk
contours, environmental monitoring data and emissions
data for industry and contaminated sites.

• The need for procedural justice in engagement
processes has become paramount as community trust in
government, industry and their paid experts has
evaporated over issues like Bellevue and Brookdale.

 • The community has a basic right to know how
 much hazardous waste is being created, treated and
 disposed of, as well as who creates it and where
 these activities occur.
           Procedural justice
Requires that community representatives have an equal
say in the manner that engagement processes are
structured and run. Common complaints arise over
process manipulation, committee stacking and
collusion between government and industry.

In an era of consultation fatigue and stakeholder distrust
communities also require resources to access
independent technical advise, peer reviews of crucial
reports and resources to attend the process itself.
Taking the ‘hazard’ out of the
        Less talking - more action.
The community is demanding political leadership and
industrial responsibility to ensure that hazardous waste
in the community becomes a historical anachronism for
our kids to read about disapprovingly at school. The
community is willing to make changes to achieve this
but cannot do it alone – we need systemic change to
achieve this goal.

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