3 Mar 2005

SPREP hoping to have worst Pacific toxic waste cleared by mid year

8:51 pm on 3 March 2005

The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme says it hopes to have the most serious toxic waste of 13 Pacific countries packed by mid year ready for shipping.

The chemicals are known as persistant organic pollutants, or POPs, and include dioxins, furans, PCBs, DDT and dieldrin.

They are to be shipped with Ausaid funding to a treatment facility in Brisbane where they will be rendered safe.

SPREP's coordinator for the prevention of pollution, Frank Griffin, says one point five tonnes of the POPs have been shipped to Brisbane from Samoa.

Toxic waste from six island countries is in drums in containers awaiting collection, and waste from a further five countries is packed but papers need to be signed before it can be collected.

Dr Griffin says delegates to a conference in New Zealand this week on eliminating highly toxic chemicals heard that the programme is going well.

"These are wastes that the island countries can't deal with themselves. They don't have the facility, they don't have the expertise to actually look after them. The Australian government saw that this was an opportunity for Australia to go into the region and assist the countries in getting the waste out of the countries and to a facility that will deal with them in an environmentally sound manner."

Dr Griffin.