Monday, June 18, 2007

ALCOA Poison: Wagerup alumina refinery emissions affect nearby communities

June 11, 2007: WA community worried about ALCOA refinery emissions

Western Australia's Department of Environment and Conservation says residents near the Wagerup alumina refinery, south of Perth, should not be concerned by a new report which finds some emissions may be affecting nearby communities.

Tests by a new radar system have found emissions from the refinery may extend for up to five kilometres under certain weather conditions, travelling very low to the ground. Alcoa was also charged recently with discharging caustic material into the environment in July 2005. In November last year, air quality sampling near Alcoa's Wagerup refinery found low levels of a range of chemical compounds.

John Sutton from the department's Air Quality Management Branch says previous tests on emissions have found volatile compounds. He says the community should not be concerned. "These events have been going on presumably for many years," he said.

But a lobby group fighting the expansion of the refinery says it is disenchanted with the findings. Gary Murrihiy from the Yarloop and Districts Concerned Residents Group says the report verifies what the community has been saying.

"People haven't imagined that they would be affected by it, it's actually happened," he said. "Finally science is proving that what happened. It's not news to us, we knew it from day one."

In November 2006 chairman of the Yarloop and Districts Concerned Residents Committee, Tony Hall, said the results do not put his mind at ease because the samples were analysed in laboratories overseas. "Those chemicals have a half life so the longer it takes the less of the sample is actually in the canister," he said. "That's an issue that we've raised with them and asked them to address but so far, as far as we know, they haven't"


Some more indy stories on this issue

Alcoa - the toxic bubble of Yarloop: ALCOA - the poisoning of Yarloop people. "It’s like living in a toxic bubble." Residents in the small community of SW town of Yarloop are becoming increasingly frustrated. Bauxite mining and alumina refining based on the world's only jarrah forest should never have been allowed. Now another major expansion is on the way... Read story

Doctors say Alcoa is a threat to Western Australian public health: The Sunday Times reports that despite a submission by doctors that local residents have suffered "acute and chronic adverse health consequences" from the plant's chemical emissions, chemical giant ALCOA intends to double the production at its Wagerup refinery. If Alcoa's plans go ahead the Wagerup plant will be the world's biggest alumina refinery. Local residents and health officials are concerned if the project is allowed to go ahead. Many locals have already been driven out by the smell, noise, caustic red mud dust and emissions containing a chemical cocktail of 261 compounds... Read story

Production and Profits More Important Than Health - Despite wide expert acknowledgement of severe ongoing health affects from the Alumina Company of America's (Alcoa)Wagerup Refinery production has increased from 2.35 mtpa (million tonne per annum)to 2.5 mtpa... Read story

FEATURE: Alcoa records eighth refinery spill in 5 months: According to an ABC Report the global alumina giant ALCOA has reported its eighth waste spill at its WA Kwinana alumina refinery in the past five months. The latest incident, last Wednesday, involved an overflow of 600-litres of process liquor in the BAUXITE unloading area of the refinery... Read Story

Alcoa may be fined over pollution: Alumina giant Alcoa could be fined up to a half a million dollars after admitting its Wagerup refinery, south of Perth, caused pollution... Read story

Another Another Another spill at Alcoa refinery: On October 13, Alcoa was charged with the unauthorised discharge of a prohibited substance. This followed a toxic spill that released between 300,000 and 1.3 million litres of caustic soda at its Alumina refinery at Kwinana, south of Perth, on June 22 and 23. A total of seven spills have occurred at the refinery since June. The most recent took place on October 12 and involved the release of 15,000 litres. Alcoa is facing charges for each of the spills, but will be required to pay maximum fines of just $5000 per offence... Read Story

ABC Nov 06

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