Environment Victoria has called for new laws to be introduced that allow the public to take legal action against government or businesses for damage to rivers, following reports of deadly arsenic leached into the Maribyrnong River.
“If the Port Authority and the EPA have turned a blind eye to this poisoning, then action needs to be taken to protect the public,” said Dr Paul Sinclair, EV’s Healthy Rivers Campaign Director.
“Fishermen have a right not to eat toxic fish. Melburnians have a right to clean water that does not pose a deadly risk to their health.
“The reported leaching of arsenic into the Maribyrnong highlights the urgent need for Victorians to hold government and industry accountable. So we would call on the Bracks Government to introduce laws that protect the public from massive acts of environmental negligence.”
One example of these laws is the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act where the public can challenge government actions that threaten the environment.
“The public should be given the right to take action in the courts for the failure of government to protect our waterways,” said Dr Sinclair.
He said if any arsenic had leached into the Maribyrnong it should have been immediately cleaned up and fishermen alerted to any possible health problems.
“Victorians need to have confidence in the health of their rivers.
The state needs coordinated monitoring of the health of native fish populations and a coordinated, rigorous testing of chemicals in waterways. And there needs to be public health alerts for rivers.
“Melburnians need to be told if the fish they’re eating will give them cancer. We have a right to know if our rivers are being poisoned.
“We shouldn’t just accept that our rivers are so polluted that you can’t swim in them, drink from them or catch fish from them.”
The Age – Tuesday, 23 August 2005
EPA unconcerned about Melbourne river arsenic claims