On Tuesday, chemical company Orica Limited said that it filed an application to ship toxic waste materials - hexachlorobenzene (HCB) - a byproduct and suspected human carcinogen of solvent manufacturing - for disposal to France.
The application appeals for the Federal Government to export 132 tonnes of HCB that is currently stockpiled at the Botany Industrial Park in Sydney. "Long term storage at Botany Industrial Park is not an acceptable solution," the company admitted.
"There is no viable alternative destruction method available in Australia nor is there likely to be in the foreseeable future. The only other alternative is continued long term storage at Botany Industrial Park which is not acceptable to the community," Orica Executive Global Head Corporate Affairs and Social Responsibility, Gavin Jackman said.
The company said that it observed lawful and technical judgement as Australia is a signatory to both the Basel and Stockholm Conventions, (which deal with the international protocols for the handling of toxic wastes).
If the application won approval, the remainder of the stockpile at the Botany will all be shipped and destroyed.
The company plans to dispose HCB through a facility operated by Tredi SA, an international leader in the destruction of industrial waste. Tredi is known throughout other countries for its effective destruction of 7,500 tonnes of HCB related waste. According to Mr Jackman, Tredi SA is famous for shipping and destroying of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs).
"Orica shares the overwhelming desire of the community to find a safe, permanent and environmentally sound solution to the HCB stockpile at Botany. We believe that we have the right partners and the right solution to now resolve this difficult and long running issue. If Orica's application is successful, the company believes it will have identified the means to resolve an enduring industrial and environmental legacy. This process can ensure that this legacy is not left for future generations to address," Mr Jackman said.
However, Greenpeace Australia opposes Orica's application as toxic waste shipment will involve shipping risk and the process which necessitate burning of the toxic material.
Burning toxic waste will create dioxins, Greenpeace Australia and Pacific Head of Research Adam Walters argued.
"It shouldn't be disposed of through high-temperature destruction. There are other chemical methods of destroying toxic waste that don't involve burning."
He argued that judging from Orica's large stockpile at Botany Industrial Park, the company shall be able to build its own disposal facility. But, Orica just wanted "to send it overseas," Mr Walters added.