Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Rann forces Dublin residents to take Marathon waste

In the late 1990s, a watchtower housing an armed guard who never slept was erected near Dublin.

This was no Irish joke, but a very serious protest by residents of the tiny South Australian town on the road between Adelaide and Port Wakefield.

The object of their protest was the planned Inkerman landfill or waste management site proposed by the then Liberal state government of Premier John Olsen.

What had begun as a few simple slogans on banners attached to fences became a celebrated display of quite sophisticated public art as residents developed momentum behind their opposition to a private dump next to their homes.

A giant cockroach and other remarkable constructions appeared over the next few months.

The protests delayed the development of the landfill site, but with the support of the new Labor government of Premier Mike Rann, site owner Waste Management Pacific (SA) opened for business in 2005.

In 2004, TPI (TransPacific Industries, as Waste Management Pacific SA) was successful in winning a 10 year contract with Wastecare SA, (a regional subsidiary comprising 6 local government councils) for an effective public private partnership (PPP) for the delivery of waste management infrastructure and service.

Under a design build and operate (DBO) contract, TPI completed an $11 million Resource Recovery and Waste Transfer Station (RRWTS) owned by Wastecare SA to receive waste and dispatches residual waste under a separate long term contract at its Inkerman landfill.

The Inkerman Landfill has just been announced as the lucky recipient of waste from Marathon Resources’ required clean-up of materials illegally buried at Mt Gee in the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary. Marathon had an exploration licence and was drilling for uranium samples within the Sanctuary.

Leigh Creek and Hawker had previously rejected the waste.

Now Rann is using the fact that the Inkerman Landfill has been declared by the state government to be a “major project development” under the state’s planning control to bypass the local community and help kickstart Marathon’s clean-up at Mt Gee.

This is likely to anger local residents who believe that it is their “ability to ‘keep the bastards honest’” that has led to the Landfill operating within acceptable bounds. This was the view of Mr John Stewart, previously an anti-Landfill campaigner, who supported an application last year by TPI for a Landfill Excellence Award.

“Under the ever watchful eye of the community, the overall appearance of the landfill is very neat and tidy,” wrote Mr Stewart.

But the dumping of the Marathon wastes goes beyond neatness and tidiness.

Wakefield Regional Council CEO Phil Barry also wrote, in June 2007, in support of TPI’s application for the award, saying “Incorporated in the professional approach is ongoing communication with the local community and Council, including the continuation of a landfill consultative committee involving Council and community representatives.”

That was June 2007. Now, Mr Barry complains that the local Council had no say about taking the exploration waste from Arkaroola.

“We would expect the state system to be communicating to the local council and local community on the matter,” he said.

“We have had a say in the past…the operators had set up a community consultative committee to which community members and the council were represented, but it’s also known that the local community committee only gets told possibly what it needs to get told….there’s been no feedback to that community committee or the council on that latest matter.”

So here we have the arrogant, aloof and out-of-touch Rann Government not bothering to take the time to consult a local community known to have had serious past concerns about the operation of a major landfill on its doorstep, and convinced only that its own watchfulness is “keeping the bastards honest”.

Instead, the “pro-growth, pro-mining and pro-business” so-called Labor government displays the worst features of a crony capitalist regime in working to a timeline that suits the interests of Arkaroola environment despoiler Marathon Resources.

Mike Rann’s name needs to be added to that of John Olsen as an enforcer of toxic waste on a small rural community.

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