and Plantation Forestry - Introduction
Downstream of Hancock's
plantations possibly sourcing drinking water from Hancock's
herbicide treated plantations.
- Aug 06:
Hancock pollutes Geelong Drinking Water with Hexazinone for
18 months (and counting)
- Adelaide's water supply
contaminated by Atrazine and Hexazinone.
- SA Water Documents about
Atrazine and Hexazinone Pollution (8 articles)
- SA State Water Monitoring Coordinating
Sub-committee (Nov 2000)
- FoE Press Release 3 July
2001. Authorities Must Act on Logging Companies
- Stanley (North East Victoria)Velpar Incident
Nov 1985 - March 1986.
- Ballarat/Creswick Hexazinone Incident
- Timeline of Events1993-
- University of Ballarat
Report - November 1994 Survey of Leaf Chlorosis Syndrome at
- Chemical Damage Alarms Ballarat Citizens
- Ballarat trees' yellow spotting illness
(Ballarat Courier March 1994)
- Low Levels found in Water (The Courier April
- Spray Won't Hurt You, Doctor (The Courier
April 16, 1994)
- Copper Oxychloride
- The Atrazine Campaign
- Atrazine: How We Won the Media War (Native
Forest News 1995)
- Atrazine Pesticide Contamination of Tasmania's
Waterways - 1994?
Note: Ciba-Geigy Meeting on Atrazine - Melbourne 16 August 1994
South Para and Warren Reservoir Contamination 1997-2000
- Herbicides Lethal to
Crustaceans, says Study, December 1998
- Spray fears - Plantation
giant rejects risk claims, December 22, 2000
- Statement on the effects
of clearing native forest and replacing with plantation forestry
at Mount Arthur, March 2001.
- Triazine Herbicide Contamination
of Tasmanian Streams: Sources, Concentrations and Effects on
- Victorian Hexazinone
- Briefing paper presented
to the National Registration Authority for Agricultural and
- Simazine Testing Rocky River, Murrungower
(Orbost Water Supply East Gippsland, Victoria) September 2002
- Town has herbicide in water - 18 June 2004
- Retesting shows Orford drinking water
'safe' ABC News Online 4/9/04
- Toxic chemical poisoning Snowy: farmer October
- Ecotoxoicity of Mix Contaminants: Effects of
Copper and Atrazine Combination on Soil Biota (Sep 04)
Call for Moratorium on Aerial Spraying in Bluegum Plantations,
October 1, 2004
respond to plantation industry's claim of right to spray, October,
- Oyster deaths prompt health concerns 26
- Plantation chemical `risk' Warrnambool Standard
October 21, 2004
- Water Bore Fears, November 4, 2004
- Gum Blues, November 6, 2004
- Farmer sad to see dairy land go, November 6,
- Blue gums sprayed close to waterways November
- Midway doing own water testing, November 11,
- Dead end on blue gum issue 300 at meeting but
not all satisfied, Nov 22, 04
- Dairy industry fears spread of plantations,
November 24, 2004
- Pastures vanishing, November 24, 2004
- Plantations can't go unchecked, November
- Town set for insecticide, Greens say, December
- Resident fear at trace of chemical, December
- Simply a non-event, December 17, 2004
- Gunns acts on spray claims, December 19,
- Bluegum impact hits home, January 4, 2005
- Victorians Exposed to Pesticides, January
- Doctors fear chemical link to child disease,
January 30, 2005
- Water Action Call. Tasmania charts more
disease near forest water catchments, February 3, 2005.
- Chemical Scare River water tests add to disease
concerns, Feb 6, 2005
- Life’s not what it seems in this neck of
the woods, February 6, 2005
- Letters Sunday Age, February 6, 2005
- Crop spraying under review after second contamination,February
- New oyster toxin alarm, February 16, 2005.
- AMA concern on water quality, March 6, 2005.
- Sprays a threat to water supply, March 8, 2005
- Actew to review its water-test procedures,
March 9 2005.
- Group monitors quality of water, May 18 2005
- Plantation Woes. But no bluegums on floodway,
May 25 2005
- Farmer questions water testing confidentiality
April 10, 2005
- Aerial pesticide spraying in hinterland
timber plantations has residents worried. May 19 2005.
- Tree Chemicals pose no threat, May 27 2005
- Challenge over tree chemicals, June 1
- Orford Water Murky Again, June 18, 2005
- MILK PROBE, June 21 2005
- Queuing to meet Thwaites, June 23 2005
- Families getting sick, July 14, 2005
- No Tests Despite Spray Concerns, July 14,
- Blue gum dairy alarm, July 20, 2005
- Geelong Drinking
Water Polluted for 18 months August 28, 2006
- Aerial Spraying
of Fertilisers a concern, Otways November 28, 2006
- Fury Over Water Poison, Tas March 22, 2007
- Contamination of the George River Alison
Bleaney March 2007
- News of more rivers contaminated. This time
in the North West of Tassie March
- Historic trees fall victim to spray program,
June 16, 2007
- Herbicide link to cancer, sex defects June
- Water is dangerous June 24, 2007
Morris Tasmanian MHA Press Release, July 3, 2007
in Tasmanian rivers summary, July 3, 2007
- Water for review as frogs shift sex, July 15,
- Hexazinone leaching into Geelong's
drinking water for 31 months
- Herbicide leak in water feared October 03,
- More chemicals in Tasmanian waterways, October
- Atrazine labelling changes overdue January
- Forestry spray may castrate rare Valley
frogs, February 5, 2008
- Act now on herbicide: minister, February 5,
- Western Creek aerial spraying prompts concerns,
February 15, 2008
- Toxic water supply fears for Candowie,
April 17, 2008
- Westernport Water does about face on pesticide
testing, April 23, 2008
- Alarm at Weed Killer in Water, May 15,
- Gunns hit with ban on use of herbicide
May 17, 2008
Herbicides Linger for Twice as Long as Experts Expected April
Reveals Low Chemical Levels in Shire Water Supplies April 24,
Should Have Acted 20 Years Ago April 24, 2009
Water Triazine Scare April 29, 2009
Pollution Detected in Latrobe River ... May 21, 2009
in the Water (Australian Story - ABC TV) February 15, 2010
Gum Toxic? (Australian Story - ABC TV) February 22, 2010
Find In Creek Prompts Drinking Water Tests September 30, 2010
Fear Over Toxic Chemicals (Dunoon NSW), February 15 2011
Blame On Forestry Operation, August 23 2012
- Fined $10,000 For Spray Drift Damage, September
of Intensive Agriculture and Plantation Forestry on Water Quality
In Latrobe Catchment, Victoria April 29 2013
Warren Reservoir at Mount Crawford and Forestry
SA plantations, circa 2001.
Reservoir pollution first of its kind
by Colin James / The Advertiser 29 Jan 01
CONTAMINATION of a reservoir by herbicides from a nearby State Government-owned
forest was the biggest incident of its kind in Australia, it has been
An SA Water investigation into the pollution throughout 1997 of the
Warren Reservoir by chemicals used by Forestry SA could find no comparable
incidents interstate or overseas.
The inquiry traced large quantities of Atrazine and Hexazinone in
the reservoir to clay pellets dropped by helicopters on new pine plantations
at the nearby Mt Crawford Forest.
The Advertiser on Wednesday reported how the Environment Protection
Authority ordered Forestry SA in August, 1998, to stop using the herbicides
after it received the results of the investigation.
SA Water staff involved with the inquiry have told The Advertiser
there had been no other incident in Australia where similar quantities
of herbicides had leached into reservoirs through creeks and streams.
Heavy rain washed dissolved quantities of the herbicides into the
waterways, where the chemicals eventually ended up in the Warren Reservoir.
Diluted amounts then spread into the Barossa and Little Para reservoirs
before being removed through expensive treatment processes at the Little
Para water filtration plant.
"It was an unusual set of circumstances which, when we looked, we
couldn't find had happened anywhere else in Australia or around the
world," one SAWater manager said.
The water had to be treated with an expensive cleanser, powdered activated
carbon, before it could be released for consumption in townships including
Gawler and the Barossa Valley.
Attempts by SA Water to recover the cost of the treatment from Forestry
SA were dropped after intervention by Government Enterprises Minister
Three government departments, SA Water, the Environment Protection
Authority and the Department for Human Services, spent several months
advising Dr Armitage on whether the contamination posed a risk to human
safety and how the water could be treated.
Confidential briefings were provided to Dr Armitage, who agreed with
departmental advisers that no public notification was required as levels
of the herbicides were below guidelines set by the National Health and
Medical Research Council.
In a letter to Forestry SA general manager Ian Millard on August 3,
1998, then EPA director Rob Thomas said the authority supported national
water management policies which recommended the "concentration of any
pesticide in water supply systems should be below detection levels".
The EPA later issued a public warning after levels of Atrazine and
Hexazinone in creeks and streams feeding into the reservoir system were
found to be six times above the NHMRC guidelines.
1. TITLE: BAROSSA WATER SUPPLY SYSTEM - 16 July 1998
ISSUE: Detection of pesticides and action to stop contamination
Barossa Reservoir in foreground
and South Para Reservoir in background - circa 2001
Source: SA Water.
*SA Water's routine water quality monitoring program has detected
low levels of a pesticide (atrazine) in the Barossa Reservoir that supplies
approximately ten per cent of metropolitan Adelaide and some country
*The Department of Human Services (formerly the South Australian Health
Commission) have been consulted on levels present in the Barossa Reservoir
and consider that, although undesirable, the levels are below that which
would constitute an immediate health concern. This viewpoint concurs
with information from the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines which
refer to helath-related guideline values for atrazine which are above
the levels detected.
*The Department of Human Services has supported an investigation initiated
by SA Water to determine the source of contamination and to implement
remedial action to stop contamination. An ongoing investigation to identify
the source(s) of contamination has determined that the atrazine did
not originate from any SA Water activities within its catchment. SA
Water subsequently requested DEHAA to investigate possible sources upstream
which could affect runoff into the South Para and Warren Reservoirs
which feed the Barossa Reservoir.
*A group representing SA Water, DEHAA, the Department of Human Services,
DAIS - Forestry SA, Barossa Ranges Animal and Plant Control Board, Northern
Adelaide and the Barossa Catchment Water Management Board has convened
to facilitate this process. In this forum DAIS - Forestry SA has indicated
the use of atrazine as a pre-emergent herbicide in conjunction with
new pine forest plantations in the Mount Crawford Forest Reserve upstream
of Warren Reservoir. A task force established from the above group will
be continuing to meet in order to identify other possible users of pesticides
in the catchment.
*In order to guarantee the safety of the water supply, SA Water has
initiated powdered activated carbon treatment of the water produced
by United Water at Barossa Water Treatment Plant. It is expected that
this treatment will enable levels in the Barossa distribution system
to be maintained below analytical detection limits. This will be verified
by WTP product water analyses.
*Given the necessary extent of consultation on this issue, there is
scope for the media to become involved. SA Water Corporate Communications
are aware of this possibility. In addition, DEHAA has advised that it
intends to inform the Minister for Environment and Heritage of the current
2. TITLE: BAROSSA WATER SUPPLY SYSTEM - 29 July 1998
ISSUE: Herbicide contamination in the Barossa water supply.
Source: SA Water.
*SA Water's routine water quality monitoring program has detected
low levels (around 1.5u/L) of the herbicides atrazine and hexazinone
in the Barossa Reservoir which supplies approximately ten percent of
metropolitan Adelaide and some country areas (previous briefing note
dated 16 July 1998 refers).
*An inter-agency team established by SA Water has been investigating
the possible source of contamination. Agencies involved included EPA,
DEHAA, Forestry SA and Water Catchment Management Board.
*Further monitoring undertaken by SA Water in South Para and Warren
Reservoirs which are immediately upstream of Barossa Reservoir has revealed
low level herbicide contamination in both. Testing in the streams feeding
into Warren Reservoir has identified very high levels of herbicides
in the streams in the Warren catchment.
*Whilst indiscriminate pesticide use within the catchment cannot be
ruled out, the monitoring results suggest the principal source is spraying
and aerial drops of a proprietary forest herbicide (containing atrazine
and hexazinone) by Forestry SA in their pine plantations immediately
upstream of Warren Reservoir. The herbicide is being used to control
pre-emergent growth in new pine forest plantations in the Mount Crawford
Forest Reserve area.
*Samples from streams running through the plantation areas (which
then drain into Warren Reservoir) show herbicide levels around 150u/L,
which are up to six times the level recommended for drinking water.
These levels are also significant from an environmental viewpoint and
the EPA is likely to take an active interest.
*Dosing of powdered activated carbon has been instigated at Barossa
Water Treatment Plant in order to prevent the herbicides passing into
supply. At present, herbicide concentrations in the treated water leaving
the Barossa plant are below the limit of detection (currently 1.2u/L)
against the guideline (0.5u/L) and health limits (20u/L) set within
the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.
*Provided the herbicide concentrations in the raw water entering the
Barossa treatment plant remain below around 2-3u/L, existing powdered
activated carbon dosing at the plant is expected to remain effective
in controlling herbicide levels in treated water. Dosing costs are currently
$30,000 per month.
*Should herbicide concentrations increase significantly then further
temporary dosing facilities will need to be installed at the plant and
dosing costs will also increase significantly.
*SA Water is forwarding correspondence to DEHAA, EPA and Forestry
SA expressing concerns about the risk to public helath caused by the
use of these herbicides in close proximity to watercourses feeding Adelaide's
water supply system and requesting actions be taken to prevent further
occurrences. Options for remediation have also been requested.
3. TITLE: HERBICIDE IN WATER SUPPLIES - 9 September 1998
ISSUE: Further detection of Simazine in Anstey Hill System
Source: SA Water.
*SA Water's routine monitoring program detected a low concentration
of the herbicide simazine in the raw water feed into Anstey Hill Water
Treatment Plant in a sample collected on 3 August 1998.
*The result, reported on 5 August 1998 indicated that the raw water
contained 0.9ug/L simazine. This compared to a maximum helath-related
guideline value of 20ug/L in potable water recommended in the Australian
Drinking Water Guidelines.
*There have been ongoing discussions with the Public and Environmental
Health Service (Department of Human Services) on the issue of herbicides
in raw water as results have become known.
*The result was discussed with EPA and Forestry SA during a meeting
called to discuss Barossa water quality on 5 August 1998 and were subsequently
referred again to the EPA on 10 August 1998.
*Detailed information was forwarded to the PEHS via email on 17 August
1998. A further update was provided on 31 August 1998.
*Given the low level detected, it was agreed that further monitoring
would be undertaken in accordance with existing procedures to identify
whether the herbicide contamination was persistent.
*Sampling on 13 August 1998 (reported 19 August 1998) showed NIL detected.
A sample taken on 24 August 1998 (reported 25 August 1998) again showed
a low level of simazine in the source water.
*Despite the very low levels of herbicide detected, SA Water initiated
powdered activated carbon treatment in the Anstey Hill Water Treatment
Plant on 9 September 1998 as a precautionary measure only to ensure
all herbicide is effectively removed before water goes into supply.
Confirmation sampling in product water will be undertaken on 11 September
*SA Water has again requested the EPA on 10 September 1998 to commence
an investigation into possible sources, focussing particularly on forestry
activities and/or local vineyards.
South Para reservoir - circa 2001
4. TITLE: BAROSSA WATER SUPPLY SYSTEM - 10 September 1998
ISSUE: Herbicide contamination in the Barossa water supply.
Source: SA Water. Relevant Points
*Weed control undertaken by Forestry SA on new pine plantations within
the Warren catchment have been linked with the detection of the herbicides
atrazine and hexazinone in the Barossa, South Para and Warren Reservoirs.
*Following investigations by SA Water and EPA, Forestry SA was directed
by the EPA to cease the use of all herbicides in all of the proclaimed
water protection areas within the Mt Lofty Ranges until such time as
an appropriate management plan is developed by Forestry SA. The management
plan seeks to avoid herbicides entering water bodies from forestry areas.
*As part of this directive, Forestry SA has begun to monitor herbicide
levels in streams both above and below their new plantation areas within
the Warren catchment. Work has also commenced on development of the
*SA Water is continuing to monitor water quality within the reservoirs.
Recent results from SA Water's monitoring show a gradual decline in
herbicide levels at the outlet of Barossa Reservoir feeding into the
Barossa Water Treatment Plant (1.6ug/L atrazine on 24 August).
*Herbicide levels in Warren Reservoir have increased slightly as a
result of further inflow from contaminated streams (5.3ug/L atrazine
on 17 August).
*Water transfers from the Mannum-Adelaide pipeline into Warren Reservoir
have been stopped in order to minimise spillage of water from Warren
into South Para and Barossa Reservoirs. This will reduce the chance
of contaminated water from Warren Reservoir increasing concentrations
in the downstream reservoirs. South Para Reservoir is being well supplemented
with filtered water from Swan Reach-Stockwell pipeline.
*SA Water continues to dose powdered activated carbon (20mg/L) into
the raw water entering the Barossa WTP in order to ensure that no herbicides
reach customers. Product water analyses have demonstrated effective
South Para and Warren reservoirs
- note plantations - circa 2001
5. TITLE: OUR POLLUTED DAMS - FORESTRY HERBICIDE CAUSES NEW SCARE
(The Advertiser September 17, 1998 p3)
By Environmental Reporter - Bronwyn Hurrell
Three reservoirs north-east of Adelaide had been contaminated for the
past year by the herbicide Atrazine, the Environment Protection Authority
And leaching of run-off from Forestry SA's Mt Crawford pine plantation
has been blamed for the pollution.
It is the third scare involving the State's reservoirs in as many weeks.
The State Government last night formed a high level committee to examine
water catchment management strategies and threats as a result of the
incidents. The committee will hold its first meeting today.
Atrazine was detected by SA Water at Barossa Reservoir last September,
but it was only made public through a press release issues after 11pm
The notification followed an EPA investigation which found the contamination
had travelled down creek beds from the SA Forestry plantation to the
Warren, South Para and Barossa Reservoirs.
The State Opposition has called for a public audit of the water quality
of all State reservoirs and why the detection was not revealed.
Investigators found levels of contamination on the reservoirs of two
micrograms per litre - well below the 20-microgram drinking quality
But the surrounding catchment has recorded samples up to three times
the safe level and the water in the catchment has been declared unsafe
for drinking. Forestry SA, which uses the chemical each May when it
plants pines at Mt Crawford, has now been ordered to stop using the
herbicide until a management plan has been put in place.
The Atrazine contamination follows the shutdown of Hope Valley Reservoir
after the parasite giardia was discovered - and the discovery of cryptosporadium
in Myponga Reservoir on August 31. EPA evaluation branch manager said
because Atrazine was a potent herbicide with a long life, the waterway
would be contaminated for another year.
He said the reason the EPA did not become involved earlier was because
SA Water had decided the low levels detected in Barossa Reservoir were
not a health risk.
Mr McLennan said the 'trigger' for the public warning was a fear that
campers who went into the forest area might be taking water from the
catchment to which contamination was traced.
"I think the incident certainly heightened people's concerns,"
Mr McLennan said.
The EPA says signs will be erected in SA Forestry reserves indicating
that the water there is not safe for use.
The Opposition Leader, Mr Rann yesterday wrote to the Premier, Mr Olsen,
demanding he take personal action over the water quality issue.
The action of Atrazine
Atrazine is a herbicide which provides knockdown and residual action
to control emerging weeds.
It also promotes tree growth, which is why its almost exclusive use
in Australia is in forestry.
Atrazine is usually applied by tractor or four-wheel-drive boomspray.
It is a mobile chemical with the potential to contaminate water, but
Australian aquatic environments are generally below the threshold for
affecting the ecosystem. Higher levels in groundwater have been detected
occasionally and have usually arisen from accidents or improper handling
The National Registration Authority for Agricultural and Veterinary
Chemicals has taken steps to reduce aquatic contamination by restricting
maximum annual application rates and withdrawing uses with high contamination
6.TITLE: I DIDN'T READ WATER REPORT
KOTZ UNAWARE OF POLLUTED RESERVOIR
The Advertiser September 18, 1998
By Environment Reporter Bronwyn Hurrell
The Environment Minister, Mrs Kotz, did not read an official briefing
on herbicide contamination in a key Adelaide reservoir for at least
two weeks, her office has revealed.
The Environment Protection Agency briefing detailed how a powerful
herbicide, Atrazine, had been detected in the Barossa reservoir on various
occassions since last September.
The briefing paper was given to Mrs Kotz on July 22 - 13 days before
she addressed State Parliament on efforts to preserve the State's water
quality. Her speech made no mention of any problems in Adelaide's reservoirs.
A spokeswoman last night said that Mrs Kotz did not read the Barossa
reservoir briefing before she addressed Parliament, because she was
"away in the country".
Mrs Kotz also "did not get to that briefing" because "it
was a parliamentary sitting week".
The spokeswoman last night could not say when Mrs Kotz eventually had
read the briefing.
The revelation came after inquiries by The Advertiser yesterday revealed
another Adelaide Hills reservoir had been contaminated by two separate
herbicides during the past nine months.
However, like the recent discovery of the parasite, giardia, at the
Hope Valley reservoir, the problem at the Millbrook reservoir was not
publicised because authorities did not consider it threatened public
health. . .
At a press conference after yesterday's meeting, Mrs Kotz denied the
Hope Valley and Barossa reservoir incidents had been embarrassing for
"How can anyone be embarrassed over a situation where there is
still no public health risk?" she said.
Mrs Kotz's comments were followed eight hours later by confirmation
she had received the Barossa reservoir herbicide briefing on July 22
- but did not read it before addressing Parliament on August 4.
The contamination was not publicly revealed until late on Tuesday night.
The Environment Protection Agency, released a statement in the wake
of the outcry over the Government's handling of the Hope Valley reservoir
Further inquiries yesterday by The Advertiser revealed the Millbrook
reservoir, near Cudlee Creek, north-east of Adelaide, tested positive
for Atrazine in January while, a second herbicide, Simazine, was detected
early last month.
The Advertiser also confirmed yesterday that the Government Enterprises
Minister, Dr Armitage, recieved briefings from SA Water about the Barossa
reservoir on July 16, July 29, September 10 and September 11.
Mrs Kotz received a separate briefing about the Millbrook reservoir
incident on September 11.
The Advertiser yesterday sent detailed questions to both ministers
on why public statements were not issued on the herbicide problems before
Their spokespeople said last night they required more time to prepare
their answers. Mrs Kotz was asked why she had not mentioned the herbicide
issue when she made her ministerial statement to the House of Assembly
on August 4.
During the speech, she said the Sydney water crisis was "a pointed
reminder to South Australia of the need for vigilance in protecting
and monitoring the water supplies which service this State".
"Ensuring a clean water supply through the protection of our water
catchments is the responsibility of every South Australian," she
Mrs Kotz and Dr Armitage were not available last night for further
7.TITLE: PLANTATIONS NO LONGER TREATED WITH ATRAZINE
The Advertiser January 10, 2001.
By Colin James
FORESTRY SA has stopped using a herbicide linked overseas to cancer,
says Government Enterprises Minister Michael Armitage.
The department ceased treating new pine plantations with Atrazine in
May, 1998, Dr Armitage said.
"It (herbicide contamination in reservoirs) is not an issue,"
"They (Forestry SA) don't use any herbicides in SA Water reservoirs
Since the early 1970s, Forestry SA had used helicopters to bomb new
pine plantings around reservoirs with herbicides containing Atrazine,
named last year by the United States Environment Protection Agency as
a potential carcinogen.
The EPA issused the warning after tests on rats showed Atrazine caused
breast, testicular and ovarian cancers.
Internationally, studies have shown herbicides leach into reservoirs
from nearby forests and accumulate in sediment. While the levels of
herbicides in reservoirs have never exceeded official guidelines, the
concentrations in sediment require ongoing monitoring and treatment.
The cost of this treatment has been the subject of high-level debate
between Forestry SA and SA Water.
SA Water spent an estimated $700,000 in 1998 treating contaminated
water with an expensive chemical before it was released for drinking
supplies. The corporation wanted to sue Forestry SA to recover the cost,
but was advised it would have difficulty isolating the source of the
Dr Armitage confirmed Crown Law advice had been sought about herbicide
use by Forestry SA. The issue is being discussed between SA Water and
Dr Armitage said he was optimistic it would be resolved without the
need for litigation.
"If a (satisfactory) conclusion cannot be reached there are procedures
which could be taken," he said.
8.TITLE: BLOCK ON HERBICIDE USE
The Advertiser 24 January 2001.
By Colin James
A STATE GOVERNMENT department was ordered to stop using potentially
carcinogenic herbicides after its operations contaminated drinking water
The Environment Protection Authority issued the edict to Forestry SA
in August 1998, after herbicides were traced to new pine plantations
near the Barossa Valley.
Former EPA executive director Rob Thomas wrote to Forestry SA manager
Ian Millard on August 3, 1998, to order his department to stop using
herbicides containing the agents Atrazine and Hexazinone. Mr Thomas
said SA Water had told the EPA that Atrazine had been found in the Warren
Reservoir "continuously since September, 1997".
Normal water-filtration processes had "not been able to remove"
the chemical from the "water supply system" - necessitating
the use of an expensive cleanser, powdered activated carbon.
Mr Thomas said SA Water investigations had found:
WATER in the South Para and Warren Reservoirs contained Atrazine at
similar concentrations to that found in the Barossa Reservoir at levels
within national safety guidelines.
NO Atrazine was found in creeks flowing into reservoirs from grazed
CONCENTRATIONS in creeks immediately downstream of new forest plantations
were up to six times higher than safety guidelines allowed
HEXAZINONE had been found with every water sample containing Atrazine.
Mr Thomas said the results - and information on the "location,
timing, rate and method of Atrazine application to new forestry plantations
near Warren Reservoir" - had identified Forestry SA as the source
of the contamination.
Mr Thomas used Section 25 of the Environment Protection Act (1993)
to order Forestry SA "to cease the use of Atrazine and other herbicides
in all proclaimed water protection areas within the Mt Lofty Ranges".
His letter was followed in May, 1999, by an SA Water briefing to Government
Enterprises Minister Michael Armitage in which a senior manager stated
herbicides detected in the Barossa Valley reservoir system had been
traced to Forestry SA.
Former bulk water division manager Matthew Giesemann also told Dr Armitage
overseas research had determined that Atrazine and Hexazinone were carcinogenic.
The Advertiser earlier this month reported that Dr Armitage wrote back
to Mr Giesemann asking him to rewrite the briefing as the claims about
Forestry SA and the cancer risks of the herbicides were unsubstantiated.
Dr Armitage told Mr Giesemann the "causal link between run-off
from forestry areas and levels of Atrazine and Hexazinone in the Warren
Reservoir had not been adequately proven."
Copters made the drop
Atrazine was regularly dropped by helicopter near most of the state's
reservoirs to control weeds in new forestry plantations.
In late 1997, large quantities leached into the Warren Reservoir after
heavy rain dissolved clay pellets coated with the chemical.
One of the world's most commonly-used herbicides, its use was officially
restricted last year after the US Environment Protection Authority found
it was "likely" to cause cancer.
A five-year review found Atrazine could cause a range of harmful effects,
from reproductive deformities to cancer. Atrazine has contaminated tap
water throughout the US and is banned in several European countries.
State Water Monitoring Coordinating Sub-committee
Contamination of the Warren catchment and the Warren, South Para and
Barossa Reservoirs by atrazine and hexazinone had been featured in media
reports in 1998. Through 1999 and 2000 the concentrations of the two
pesticides decreased gradually in the reservoirs. Although activated
carbon was used at the Barossa Water Treatment Plant to remove the pesticides
low concentrations were detected in some samples.
By September 1999 concentrations at the inlet to the Barossa Water
Treatment Plant were consistently below 1.6ug/L and the use of activated
carbon was discontinued. The health related guideline value for atrazine
was 20ug/L and for hexazinone is 300ug/L. In the latest samples collected
in mid August 2000 the concentrations were below detection limits at
most most locations and including the inlet and outlet of the Barossa
Water Treatment Plant.
There were occasional detections of pesticides throughout the period.
The most common were of:
* simazine which was detected in four samples from Gumeracha Weir and
in single samples from Little Para River and Reservoir, Torrens Gorge
Weir and Tod Reservoir; and
*hexazinone which was detected in single samples from Little Para River
and the River Murray at Murray Bridge, Mannum, Lock 9 and Loxton.
* Atrazine was detected in one samples of product water from the Hope
Valley Water Treatment Plant, endosulfan sulfate in one sample from
Gumeracha Weir and dieldrin which is no longer registered for use was
detected in one sample from Mt Bold Reservoir.
The detection of atrazine and hexazinone in product water from the
Barossa Treatment Plant, atrazine, in product water from the Hope Valley
Treatment Plant (0.5ug/L), dieldrin in Mt Bold Reservoir (0.07ug/L)
and the concentrations of hexazinone detected in the Little Para River
(5.9ug/L) and the River Murray at Mannum (2.5ug/L) and Lock 9 (2.1ug/L)
represented Type 1 incidents. However, the concentrations detected were
well below the health related guideline values (atrazine 20ug/L; dieldrin
0.3ug/L; hexazinone 300ug/L) and DHS considered in each case that there
was no risks to human health. Except for the results from the Barossa
Treatment Plant the pesticide detections were gnerally isolated samples.
The remaining detections represented Type 2 incidents.
Friends of the Earth Melbourne today warned that current logging by an
American based logging company, could have potential health risks for
over 50,000 people in the State's south west. Forest Campaigner for Friends
of the Earth, Anthony Amis said "On Sunday I witnessed some very shoddy
logging occurring in the Webster Hill Pine Plantation located in the Otway
Ranges. This plantation is within the Gellibrand River catchment which
supplies water for up to 50,000 residents in the states south west, including
Warrnambool, Camperdown, Cobden, Lismore, Derrinallum, Terang, South Purrumbete,
Devil's Gully, Noorat, Glenormiston, Simpson, Chocolyn, Gnotuk and Boorcan".
At one particular site, on a tributary of Asplin Creek which in turn
runs into the Gellibrand River, buffer zones were almost non-existent
and soil erosion from poorly maintained roads was entering the waterways.
It would appear that Hancock are more concerned about their profits
than the well being of people, who rely on this catchment for clean
drinking water" said Mr Amis.
Mr Amis added, "It appeared that care was not taken in this particular
part of the plantation, which was located on the eastern side of Carmen
Track, possibly on Gagin Track. There was inappropriate roading, massive
soil disturbance and a lack of culverts of drains which protect creeks
and streams from water pollution associated with sediment and herbicide
"In November 1998, Hancock Victorian Plantations purchased the assets
of the Victorian Plantation Corporation for over $A500 million. The
purchase entitled Hancock to log over 105,000 hectares of mostly pine
plantations throughout the state over a 99 year licence.
"Since 1998 Hancock has been logging at a ferocious rate across the
state, logging vast areas of pine plantations. Once logged the areas
are then treated with herbicides. This is clearly a very worrying method
of logging, especially when many of the plantations are located upstream
of domestic water catchments throughout the state" said Mr Amis. Our
research indicates that possibly 100 towns throughout Victoria are located
downstream of Hancock plantations. What onus is on the company to protect
the health interests of people relying on this drinking water?" Mr Amis.
"Is the water being tested for herbicide contamination downstream from
"Adelaide's drinking water was recently contaminated by the herbicides
Atrazine and Hexazinone which were sprayed into surrounding water catchments
by Forestry South Australia. This was also the case for the small Tasmanian
town of Lorinna which in 1994 had their water catchment sprayed with
Atrazine by Forestry Tasmania. Atrazine has been linked with non-hodgkins
Lymphoma, a form of cancer. Friends of the Earth has real concerns that
similar problems could be occuring throughout Victoria. Responsibility
for monitoring Hancock in the Otways has fallen on the Colac-Otway Shire.
I raised these concerns twice with the council earlier this year. They
have only responded to the first of my letters and didn't even answer
the second letter. There are many other plantation companies operating
in the Gellibrand Catchment. The council has refused my request earlier
this year to supply Friends of the Earth with information pertaining
to the herbicides used by these plantation companies. We have been forced
to create our own website to pass this information onto the public"
concluded Mr Amis.
STANLEY VELPAR INCIDENT November 1985 - March
Spraying on the Stanley Plateau carried out by DCFL on pine plantations
Orchards were damaged in this incident by the Overdrift of Velpar.
Chlorotic spotting was evident on some fruit trees with the trees suffering
the worst possibly being those suffering moisture stress through lack
of irrigation. By January at least 24 growers from the Stanley area
were effected. The damage was first reported in 26 November. Between
2 and 31 December,1985, a total of 30 written complaints were received
in Central Registry. All complainants reported the occurrence of leaf
spotting on trees, mainly chestnuts, walnuts, cherries, apples (pears)
and on a variety of ornamental species, following the aerial spraying
of a nearby pine plantation by the Forest Commission.
Vowell Air Services (Helicopters) Pty Ltd of Stuart Road, Tyabb, apparently
did the spraying. The application was Velpar (Hexazinone) applied at
a rate of 2kg of active ingredient per hectare mixed with 20 litres
of Ulvapron and 32 litres of water. Symptoms of Velpar damage were also
observed on roadside reserves and in unsprayed forest areas. Possibly
a cloud of minute particles of spray material was picked up during the
aerial spraying and carried from the target area by a current of wind
which then circulated in a generally south west direction depositing
several amounts of spray material over and onto nearby properties.
December 10, 1985: The Ovens and Murray Advertiser ‘Premier called
on to intervene on aerial spraying of pine trees’. Orchardists and Beechworth
Shire Council wanted the ban in the Stanley area until studies had been
completed into the spraying problems.
January 21, 1986: The Ovens and Murray Advertiser ‘Growers call for
spraying to stop’. A meeting packed with orchardists at Stanley last
Tuesday unanimously called on the CFL Minister, Ms Kirner, to stop aerial
spraying in the vicinity of the Stanley Plateau. Orchardists were concerned
to see whether there would be any short or long term effects on the
production of fruit. Also concerns that sprays had fallen on roofs and
then entered water supplies.
February 11, 1986: The Ovens and Murray Advertiser ‘Spraying at Stanley
now Banned says Kirner’. ‘The Minister for CFL has introduced a ban
on all aerial spraying of pine plantations in the Stanley area . . .
The decision follows an urgent call by Stanley orchardists in the middle
of January for a ban on the spraying. Ms Kirner said CFL had agreed
to cease all spraying pending a investigation into the spotting of fruit
and other tree foliage which appeared late in November.
5. BALLARAT/CRESWICK HEXAZINONE INCIDENT 1993/4.
In late 1993, two pine plantations, owned by the Victorian Plantation
Corporation, situated near the City of Ballarat in Central Victoria
were sprayed with Hexazinone and Ulvapron. Creswick nursery staff were
the first people alerted to something going wrong with this spraying
operation a week or two after the spraying, when plants in their nursery
started to die. The City of Ballarat first found spotting of trees in
Ballarat a month after the spraying. The following timeline is a rough
description of some of the events that followed.
*Please note in 1986 the Department of Conservation and Forests issued
an moratorium that they would not use fixed wing aircraft for aerial
spraying after spraying problems with Hexazinone in the Stanley Region.
TIMELINE OF EVENTS (Incomplete)
22 October: Victorian Plantations Corporation (VPC) writes to
Agricultural and Domestic Chemicals Review Committee (ADCRC) requesting
approval for aerial spraying of Velpar L (hexazinone preparation) on
pines in Creswick (LEGL 93-39/1) and Shepherds Flat (Ballarat) (LEGL
93-32) pine plantations in November/December in accordance with Code
28 October: ADCRC approves spraying.
2 November: VPC distributes letter to residents between Creswick
East and Springmount informing them amongst other things that;
". . . Aerial application will commence in early November, 1993
and should be completed in one day, depending on weather.
The operation has been approved by the Agricultural and Domestic Chemicals
Review Committee and will be conducted in accordance with the Committees'
Code of Practice.
Strict controls will be used for this operation.
1. An aircraft specially rigged for this job will be used to ensure
accurate delivery of herbicide onto the target zone.
2. Buffer zones will be left along streams and other sensitive areas.
3. Spraying will take place only when weather conditions are such
as will avoid any drift of herbicide outside the target area."
. . .
4 November: VPC sends almost identical letter (as above) to
Shire of Creswick.
15 November: Field Air* (Ballarat) sprays 70 hectares of the
Shepherds Flat pine plantation (located about 4km south east of the
village of Durham Lead) with Velpar L (wind SE, 12 knots). Three/Four?
spraying flights were necessary. Approximately 912 litres of Velpar
(Hexazinone), 1520 litres of Ulvapron and 2128 litres of water were
sprayed. (*Field Air act as agents for Air Tractor Australia - owned
by Air Tractor (Olney, Texas)).
16 November: Field Air (Benalla) sprays 30 hectares in one aircraft
trip at Creswick (plantation known as Sawpit Gully) with Velpar L (wind
NE, 4 knots). VPC advises DCNR (Department of Conservation and Natural
Resources) of aerial spraying near Creswick nursery that day. Nursery
staff observe plane flying low over nursery. DCNR staff ask what is
being sprayed. VPC advises it is Velpar L. - 12 litres of Velpar, 20
litres of Ulvapron (an anti-evaporant petroleum based compound) and
28 litres of water, total 60 litres per hectare. Droplet size was 250-300
microns (a relatively large droplet size which are normally 100 microns).
Aircraft in question had an 1800 litre tank. Height of the aircraft
was 1 to 2 metres above canopy - 3 metres above the ground.
End November/early December: DCNR Creswick nursery staff observe yellow
blotching on nursery stock and amenity plants at nursery. Damaged tubestock
15 December: DCNR nursery staff sample foliage and send to DAV
(Department of Agriculture) for testing.
20 December: City of Ballarat first notices spotting in Ballarat.
30 December: DAV analysis indicates no evidence of disease.
Report notes damage most likely caused by environmental conditions or
spray drift. Reported to DCNR South West Catchment and Land Protection
Management (CALM) manager, who discusses report with VPC.
6 January: DCNR/VPC inspect damaged nursery stock.
7-10 January: DCNR photographs damage. DCNR describes damage
to DAV and Du Pont staff who say description could be consistent with
Velpar L spray drift.
18 January: DCNR shows photographs of Creswick nursery damage
to MacSpread, Ballarat, supplier of Velpar L. MacSpread advises damage
could be consistent with aerial spraying.
20 January: VCAH (Victorian College of Agriculture and Horticulture)
visits Creswick nursery.
27 January: City of Ballarat samples foliage at Ballarat for
3 February: Institute of Horticultural Development (DAV) inspects
spotting at Ballarat.
9 February: Shire of Ballarat notifies EPA of spotting.
10 February: SCL (State Chemistry Laboratories) confirms hexazinone
in DCNR Creswick nursery samples. SCL reports to DCNR that hexazinone
has been found in nursery stock foliage. EPA commences investigation.
11 February: Director of DCNR Forest Service, sends letter to
Managing Director of VPC, seeking compensation for damage to the Creswick
Nursery stock and amenity planting. Loss of stock was later valued at
12 February: DCNR closes Creswick nursery to public.
15 February: EPA confirm that spotting of leaves found as far
west as Linton (about 24km south west of Ballarat) and as far north
as Clunes (about 27km north of Ballarat).
16 February: DAV rules out biological causes for damage in Ballarat
18 February: First interdepartmental/local government meeting
(EPA, DAV, DCNR, City of Ballarat, Shire of Ballarat, Shire of Buninyong).
Leaf Chlorosis Co-ordination Committee formed.
21 Februray: DHCS (Department of Health and Community Services)
samples drinking water. SCL confirms hexazinone in Ballarat samples.
22 February: First EPA media release. EPA begins Creswick inspections.
23 February: Newspaper and TV coverage of issue. EPA begins
sampling throughout affected area. DHCS provides drinking water sample
results - hexazinone not detected. Second EPA media release.
24 February: Second interdepartmental/local government meeting.
VPC requests EPA to withdraw suggestion that aerial spraying caused
26 February: Peak level of public enquiries.
28 February: EPA begins meetings with external experts (Spraysearch,
Daratech, Du Pont, DCNR, University of Ballarat).
March 1994: Spraysearch (a joint
venture between the DofA and Daratech Pty Ltd (the Department's commercial
arm) writes a report entitled; SPRAY DRIFT COMPLAINT INVESTIGATION OF
FIELD AIR (BALLARAT) Pty. Ltd. Quotes from the report incude;
p1 "The complaint specifically involves allegations of spray
drift from the aerial application of the herbicide Hexazinone (trade
name Velpar L). Approximately 76 ha of young Pinus Radiata plantation
at Durham Lead (approximately 20 km south of Ballarat) were sprayed
on the 15th November 1993. In January 1994, the leaves of species of
Elm tree (and subsequently other deciduous species such as Flowering
Cherry, Rose, Liquidambar, Pin Oak and Maple, to name a few) began exhibiting
extensive chlorotic spotting. Experts from the Institute of Horticultural
Development at Knoxfield discounted any possible disease or pathogen
effects, and leaf samples analysed by the State Chemistry Laboratory
(SCL) confirmed Hexazinone residues. The extent of the effects have
yet to be determined, however effected trees can apparently be found
in a broad swathe from Bunninyong in the South to Clunes in the North,
a distance of approximately 50km."
p2 "A copy of the Job Sheet (Field Air Work Order) was produced.
Copies of the relevant maps showing flight lines and the pine plantation
detail and area sprayed was also produced. The job sheet and maps reveal:
*The client was the Victorian Plantations Corporation (VPC).
*The chemical rates were: Velpar 12 litres/ha
Ulvapron 20 litres/ha
Water 28 litres/ha
TOTAL 60 litres/ha
However a Field Air Work Order given to Reg Hill states the chemical
Velpar 12 litres/ha
Ulvapron 15 litres/ha"
1 March: EPA begins Shepherds Flat inspections. ALP candidate
calls for independent enquiry into leaf spotting.
2 March: EPA begins visual survey to determine extent of affected
3 March: Third interdepartmental/local government meeting results
in requests to DAV that Velpar L use be suspended pending outcome of
8 March: EPA formally requests report on DAV investigation of
spotting under Aerial Spraying Control Act.
9 March: State Opposition calls for independent enquiry into
spraydrift in Ballarat.
5 April: EPA sends letter to Chairman and Board of Directors
of Victorian Plantation Corporation seeking the name of a person authorised
to speak on its behalf.
13 April: EPA receives letter indicating that Kevin White was
authorised to speak to the EPA.
17 June: Victorian Plantation Corporation served notice pursuant
to Section 55(3)(D) of the Environment Protection Act 1970.
12 July: Victorian Plantation Corporation served notice pursuant
to Section 55(3) of the Environment Protection Act 1970.
19 January: Field Air plead guilty at the Geelong Magistrates
Court and were convicted and fined $5000 in relation to each incident
plus $20,000 costs.
17 March: Geelong Magistrates Court
Counsel for VPC advised Mr Von Einem Magistrate, as follows:
(a) VPC did not intend to pursue its proposed objections to the further
and better particulars of the charges;
(b) He had received instructions that VPC would be pleading guilty
to the two charges of pollution, subject to suitable prosecution summary
being agreed between the parties. He indicated that the matter was therefore
resolved, "unless the sky fell in".
Spraysearch report - August 1994;
The Aerial Application of Velpar L herbicide to a Radiata Pine plantation
at Sawpit Gully, Creswick, Victoria. A report on the performance of
the application equipment and use of spray cloud modelling to determine
the possibility of off-target drift;
p5 "The aircraft was loaded at the Field Air base at
Ballarat airport and then flew to the site. The mixing and loading of
the product was carried out in the open on the normal loading/washdown
area. The loading equipment consists of a main water supply, a steel
mixing tank (approx 200L capacity), recirculating and delivery pump
and associated valves and supply hoses. Whilst somewhat basic in design
and construction the equipment appeared to fulfill its purpose . . .
The covered mixing tank has an internal agitation bar, allowing thorough
mixing prior to pumping to the aircraft". ..
p5 ". . . The DCNR nursery in question was located on
the southern side of this plantation, approximately 350m from the boundary
of the site." . . .
p9 "From an operational point of view the site would
be typical of many areas of forestry plantation that are aerially sprayed,
offering principally straight, parallel flight-lines along the site.
The mature plantation would require that the aircraft drop down and
pull up at either end, in order to safely clear the trees. This would
be especially important at the western end, where the ground itself
was sloping away. Normal practice would be to follow the contours as
closely as possible, in order to maintain a uniform spraying height"
. . .
p10 (b) Equipment Selection
"Field Air Pty Ltd selected to use the fixed-wing Airtractor
502 fitted with a hydraulic boom onto which were mounted 10 Micronair
AU 5000-2 rotary atomiser units. This type of aircraft is widely used
for forestry spraying in Australia. The Micronair AU5000-2 is an atomiser
widely used for low volume aerial spraying of agrochemicals, and is
routinely used in aerial spraying of forests".
p11 "One of its perceived attributes is that it produces
a relatively narrow droplet distribution with fewer fine droplets, compared
to many hydraulic pressure nozzles. It consists of a central spindle,
through which the spray liquid is supplied to a surrounding perforated
sleeve, passing through the main body of the atomiser. Three adjustable
pitch blades are mounted on the body, together with a cylindrical wire
mesh cage - that spins with the body and the blades. In the use the
spray liquid is thrown from the inner sleeve onto the inner surface
of the rotating mesh cage and then off the cage into the high velocity
air steam from the aircraft. It is most probable that the liquid is
also sheared directly off the cage surface by the air stream.
The droplet size distribution can be varied by altering the rotation
speed of the atomiser, for a given air speed, by adjusting the pitch
of the blades on the unit".
p14 (4) SPRAY OPERATION INVESTIGATION
(a) Spray Liquid Composition
The original contract specified that the spray liquid would have
the following composition:
*Velpar L 12L/ha
*Ulvapron Oil 20L/ha
However it is understood from discussion with Field Air Pty Ltd
that the composition was changed for operational reasons following the
previous day's spraying at Durham Lead, (the other part of the contract),
to the following:
*Velpar L 12L/ha
*Ulvapron Oil 15L/ha
No mixing records were made available to SpraySearch to validate
the above; it is presumed that the VPC controller's records document
the actual useage, as required by Section 3.11 of the contract. The
latter composition has been used throughout this report . . .
The reason for the inclusion of the large quantity of Ulvapron Oil
is unclear and is not defined in the contract. It is presumed that it
was included to reduce evaporation and/or to improve biological efficacy.
The use of an oil additive is not included on the product label guidelines.
Ulvapron is an hydrocarbon oil/emulsifier blend that is marketed as
an application aid. The only reference to an adjuvant in the guidelines
relates to the inclusion of a non-ionic surfactant/ wetting agent to
improve foliar wetting. However the guidelines state that a surfacant
should not be used if the spray liquid is to be applied over the top
of Pinus Radiata trees - as was the case for this operation.
(b). Spray liquid mixing and loading.
No records of the mixing and loading were made available, however
the following procedure was verbally supplied by Field Air Pty Ltd:
*A portion of the water was pumped into the aircraft hopper.
*The Velpar L and a further quantity of the water were mixed in the
mixing tank on the ground and then pumped into the aircraft hopper.
*The Ulvapron Oil was emulsified into a further quantity of the water
in the mixing tank on the ground and then pumped into the aircraft hopper.
*The balance of the water was pumped into the aircraft hopper.
The design of the hopper is such that the liquid entry point is
at the bottom, so there would have been thorough mixing of the components
during the filling of the hopper. It was reported that the hopper contents
were not circulated during transit to the site, but prior to spraying
the pump was turned on and the hopper contents continuously mixed.
(c). Application to the site.
It is understood that the spraying was carried out between 09.00
and 13.00 hrs on the 16th November 1993. SpraySearch has not had access
to the controller's records of the operational parameters and conditions
at the time of spraying and so is unable to comment on the compliance
of the operation to the contract specifications in sections 4.4 and
5. Information from Field Air Pty Ltd confirmed that the flying height
was nominally 3-5m as far as was practical and safe. . . Apart from
the initial passes to spray the boundaries of the block, the majority
was sprayed with a series of lengthwise swaths. It is noted that the
swath width was given as 12m by Field Air Pty Ltd, whilst the contract
states that an effective swath width of 15-18m would be expected unless
otherwise determined and set by the Controller.
p15 DROPLET SIZE ANALYSIS
The mechanics of airborne spray drift are very complex and depend
on a large number of factors. The droplet size distribution of the spray
emitted from the atomiser is obviously an important factor because,
together with the evaporation characteristics and environmental conditions,
it will largely determine the proportion of the spray cloud that may
remain airborne and become a drift problem. . . There is no single accepted
value of droplet size below which drift becomes a problem, because it
is an intercative issue - for example a strong wind will be able to
carry larger droplets off-target than a slight wind.
The contract specified an ... "even distribution of droplets
ranging in size from 250-350 microns", unless otherwise agreed
by the Controller . . . This is an ambiguous statement because of the
ways in which it could be interpreted. Strictly interpreted it means
that no droplets should be smaller than 250 microns or larger than 350
microns, and that the population should be evenly distributed between
In a commercial operation this is probably impossible to achieve.
The more probable interpretation, and that made by Field Air Pty Ltd,
and presumably accepted by the Controller, would be that the median
size should be within that range.
In order to give a more technical base to this aspect if the investigation
SpraySearch were contracted to conduct a series of droplet size determinations
in its advanced Atomisation Facility at Werribee.
In the context of the expected behaviour for the conditions selected
and used by Field Air Pty Ltd, the following conclusions can be made:
(1) The anticipated Volume Median Diameter of 250 - 350 microns
has been successfully achieved, with a mean value for the two replicates
of 300 microns.
(2) With regard to the potential for off-target drift, approximately
10% by volume of the emitted spray cloud was in droplets below 105 microns,
3.3% below 50 microns, and 1.0% below 25 microns.
(3) Approximately 20% of the emitted spray was in droplets with
a diameter between 256-344 microns.
(4) The accidental mis-setting of the Micronair blade angle, resulting
in an over-revving to 3000rpm, would have had minimal effect on the
size distribution of the emitted spray cloud.
(5) The omission of the high level of Ulvapron Oil would have resulted
in a significantly coarser emitted spray cloud.
(6) The operational conditions selected by Field Air Pty Ltd, based
on information available to them, successfully met the reasonable interpretation
of the contract's droplet size requirements.
In the letter from *****, dated 13th April 1994, the following three
questions were asked:
(1) Could spray drift from the sprayed area, (Sawpit Gully), have been
deposited on the affected trees?
(2) Is spraydrift a likely cause of the spotting?
(3) If it is drift, was it forseeable and could it have been avoided?
In relation to question (1), the model as used has indicated that
it would be possible for spray drift to be deposited at the nursery.
In relation to question (2), the model as used has indicated that
a dose of approximately 0.03 L/ha would have been deposited on the ground
at the nursery. This would probably have been mostly composed of droplets
with a diameter of the order of 50 microns. Whether the doseage of spray
liquid, in that droplet size range, could have caused the observed spotting
and damage is beyond the remit of this investigation.
In relation to question (3), this investigation indicates that the
operation was carried out by Field Air Pty Ltd was satisfactory; the
equipment used was typical of that used for aerial forestry spraying
in Australia, there were no apparent problems and the emitted spray
cloud was of the droplet size distribution anticipated and required
by the contract. As to whether the problem was foreseeable and could
have been avoided, there are a large number of local factors that could
have influenced the outcome of the operation at the time that have not
been investigated here, and it is therefore considered impossible to
answer this question.
University of Ballarat Report - November 1994
Survey of Leaf Chlorosis Syndrome at Creswick, Victoria
Surveys of vegetation in and around Creswick township were undertaken
in early 1994 following the development of yellow spotting on leaves
(leaf chlorosis). Fifty trees were scored for leaf chlorosis including
14 mature elm (Ulmus spp.) trees and 36 eucalyptus trees (Eucalyptus
spp.), the latter ranging in size from small understorey to mature forest
trees. Twenty of the fifty trees surveyed were affected by leaf chlorosis.
Among the surveyed trees, those most severely affected by leaf chlorosis
were located along Sawpit Road near the DCNR Nursery. Trees with intermediate
leaf chlorosis (Categories 1 to 3) occurred within an area 2 to 3 km
south of the DCNR Nursery, to the north, east and south of St Georges
Lake. Trees more than one kilometre north and north-west of the DCNR
Nursery were not affected by leaf chlorosis.
Leaf chlorosis decreases in intensity with increasing distance southwards
from Sawpit Gully Pine Plantation. Analysis of new growth suggests that
the causal event occurred in late 1993 or early 1994. Affected vegetation
appears to be altered both physically and physiologically. The results
if the surveys show that the distribution of the leaf chlorosis syndrome
in the Creswick study area is non-random, and that the most severely
affected trees are adjacent to the Sawpit Gully Pine Plantation. The
results of the surveys are consistent with the theory that the causal
agent or agents were distributed aerially from a point source of contamination
and were subsequently spread by prevailing winds.
Regional Health Survey
Regional Health Survey by Reark Research Pty Ltd commissioned by the
Department of Health and Community Services in late April 1994 - primary
purpose of the survey was to determine whether persons living in certain
areas within and surrounding Ballarat had suffered any ill health as
a consequence of the herbicide hexazinone in the environment of Ballarat.
pi Telephone survey conducted in May 1994 . . . A total of 558 respondents
were interviewed . 'While survey findings confirmed age-related variations
in the prevalence of illnesses, the survey results did not confirm the
expected higher prevalence of illnesses within the Ballarat population,
nor the expected higher levels of stress and anxiety within the Ballarat
and Daylesford populations. However, in comparison to Daylesford/Bendigo
respondents, Ballarat respondents did report significantly higher levels
of specific symptoms, such as upset stomach or diarrhoea, irritated
throat or dry cough, and cold symptoms. . .
p1 . . . Hexazinone is considered to have only mildly acute
toxic effects on humans, notably eye irritation, as reported from occupational
exposures. Animal toxicity testing has confirmed this low toxicity.
However, the survey design proposed to account for the widest range
of possible effects on the exposed population. Also, it could not be
assumed that any effect would have been immediately evident as acute
illness, as subsequent effects may follow some months later when discharged
herbicide that might have settled on a dwelling's roof was flushed off
by rain into tank water storage and later consumed.
p11 . . . The prevalence of three specific symptoms was significantly
higher amongst Ballarat respondents than Daylesford/Bendigo respondents:
with 14% of Ballarat respondents, compared to 9% of Daylesford/Bendigo
respondents reporting stomach upset or diarrhoea; 13% of Ballarat respondents,
compared to 8% of Daylesford/Bendigo respondents reporting irritated
throat or dry cough; and 22% of Ballarat respondents, compared to 14%
of Daylesford/Bendigo respondents, reporting having had cold symptoms,
including runny nose or sneezing. . .
p15 . . . Those persons most likely to have experienced an illness
episode during November/December were older people (23% of those aged
60 years or older having experienced an illness during November/December
1993) and children (19% of those aged less than 5 years, and 10% of
those aged 5 to 11 years, being identified as having suffered an illness
during November/December 1993).
It had been expected that persons dependent upon bore, tank or bottled
water as their main source of drinking water might be more susceptible
to illness conditions. Table 2 shows that 16% of persons living within
such households reported any illness experience during November/December
1993, which is only marginally higher than the 12% reporting illness
amongst those persons dependent on town water as their main drinking
p19 . . . Table 5 summarises survey data on the extent to which
reported illnesses during November and December were believed and/or
suggested to be related to exposure to chemicals within the environment.
Overall, 5% of respondents believed an illness was definately or very
likely to be related to chemical exposure, while 4% considered it quite
likely that an illness had been related to chemical exposure within
the environment. However, . . . respondents living in the affected Ballarat
region were only marginally more likely than respondents living in Daylesford/Bendigo
to believe an illness had been related to chemical exposure (10% and
Only 3% of respondents reported their doctor as having suggested an
illness might be related to exposure to chemicals within the environment,
while a further 1% of respondents reported that someone else had suggested
an illness might be related to chemical exposure.
Overall, 10% of Ballarat, and 9% of Daylesford/Bendigo respondents
reported that they believed, or that it had been suggested, that an
illness of a household member during November/December 1993 might have
been related to chemical exposure. However, most (6%) considered such
exposure to relate to general pollution within the environment and not
to a specific chemical, although no one specifically mentioned hexazinone
(or its brand name, Velpar) as being the particular chemical believed
or suggested to be related to an illness.
p24 The findings of the survey conducted throughout specific
areas of Ballarat, the nearby Daylesford region, and the Bendigo region,
do not support the hypothesis regarding an expected higher prevalence
of illness within Ballarat region, nor the further hypothesis regarding
higher levels of stress or anxiety within the Ballarat and Daylesford
regions. While there was no overall difference in the prevalence of
illnesses, it is worth noting the significantly higher prevalence of
specific symptoms amongst Ballarat respondents, such as upset stomach
or diarrhoea, irritated throat or dry cough, and cold symptoms.
However, as might be expected, respondents within the Ballarat region
were more aware, than were respondents within Daylesford/Bendigo, of
media reports concerning health risks from exposure to chemicals within
the environment. It is therefore interesting to note that in spite of
greater awareness of media coverage of health risks from exposure to
chemicals within the environment, Ballarat respondents were not more
likely to report greater stress of anxiety than respondents in Daylesford/Bendigo.
Chemical damage alarms Ballarat citizens
25/3/94 Melbourne Age
The Environment Protection Authority may take legal action is it finds
the law has been breached in an incident that left 500 square kilometers
of central Victoria sprayed with farm chemical including most of the
city of Ballarat.
The spraying of the herbicide Hexazinone has raised health and environmental
concerns among Ballarat residents and damagd elm trees in Ballarat’s
Avenue of Honour. A community health hotline was set up in late February,
when the chemical’s presence was first detected.
Many trees have suffered from spotted leaves, and hundreds of elm trees
have dropped their leaves early. But local health officers have advised
that no trace of the chemical had been found in the city’s water supply
and that homegrown fruit and vegetables were safe to eat.
The EPA is investigating the incident, which probably occurred late
last year. The area affected runs south of Ballarat as far as Buninyong,
and north to Clunes. There has been speculation that the chemical dump
was caused by a drift from aerial spraying of pine forests.
Hexazinone is used to retard the growth of young eucalypts in pine
plantations. An EPA spokesman said there was no confirmed link between
aerial spraying and the chemical’s appearance, but that any breaches
of the Environment Protection Act could lead to court action.
About 50 people have rung a hot line set up by the Department of Health
and Community Services. The EPA has also set up a hot line for people
to give information about the spraying.
The Chief Medical Officer, Dr Graham Rouch, said Ballarat’s residents
were not at risk from hexazinone. Herbicides worked on plant systems
but were not toxic to humans, he said. But Dr Rouch said hexazinone
could irritate the eyes.
No traces of the chemical had been found in Ballarat’s water, he said.
“We’re looking at very tiny drops in a diluted form (over Ballarat),”
The City of Ballarat’s director of gardens and parks, Mr Phil Clingin,
said yellow spots appeared on leaves of trees in the Avenue of Honour
last November. Mr Clingin said about 25 per cent of the avenue’s 4000
trees had been affected, with many dropping all their leaves. He said
it was too early to say whether the elms would recover.
The ALP candidate for Ballarat Province, Mrs Catherine Laffey, said
there was widespread concern about the spraying, although it was important
that people were not unduly alarmed. Mrs Laffey said an independent
inquiry should be held. Ballarat Community Health Council’s executive
officer, Mr Paul Niall, said no one had come in with health problems
from the spray.
A spokesman for the Australian Medical Association in Ballarat said
doctors had not reported patients being affected. A Ballarat Councillor,
Ms Janet Dale, said she believed the incident was being properly investigated
but that more stringent controls might be needed once the EPA released
P1 Ballarat Courier March 1994? Ballarat trees’ yellow
spotting illness - Labor urges compo rights by Kim Quinlan
Ballarat people should be entitled to compensation for damage done
to trees as a result of the yellow spotting illness, the Opposition
spokesman for Conservation and Resource management, Barry Pullen, said
Mr Pullen was in Ballarat to inspect the trees. He said if it was proved
the damage was caused by an accident or poor practice, people should
be entitled to some form of compensation.
A petition calling for an independent inquiry into why the damage occurred
was also presented to Mr Pullen during his visit. The petition called
on the Government to “take all necessary steps to ensure that the Government
establish an independent inquiry into this matter, and the issue of
the spraying of herbicides into the Victorian environment, to document
the facts, calculate the losses and make recommendations to ensure that
such damage will not recur”.
More than 800 signatures were presented to Mr Pullen by ALP candidate
for Ballarat West Robyn Mason and more are still to come.
The Courier - Ballarat April 16, 1994
P3 Low levels found in soil, water Low levels
of hexazinone have been detected in soil and water samples in the Ballarat
The Environment Protection Authority yesterday confirmed the chemical
was present in soil and water samples. The samples had been taken from
and near two pine plantations in the Ballarat district.
An EPA spokesman said the most recent results indicated that levels
of hexazinone detected were “very low”. They were well within guidelines
established to protect health and the environment.
However, soil and water samples taken and analysed from residential
areas in Ballarat, Creswick, Buninyong and Clunes showed no hexazinone
present. The spokesman said information from the samples would be used
in any prosecution taken by the EPA regarding the yellow spotting incident.
Investigations were continuing, he added.
Spray ‘won’t hurt you: doctor The Courier -
Ballarat April 16, 1994
P3 The herbicide believed to have caused yellow spots on thousands
of the region’s trees should not pose any danger to the health of the
community, a public health physician confirmed yesterday.
Department of Health and Community Services’ Dr Malcolm Dobbin said
hexazinone - the chemical identified in plant samples from trees afflicted
by the mysterious yellow spots - had not been linked with adverse health
conditions, and was one of the least toxic chemicals used in agriculture.
“People often worry about cancer or birth defects in situations like
this and no such long-term effects have been associated with the chemical,”
Dr Dobbin said. If hexazinone had drifted more than 800 square kilometers,
it would have mixed with large volumes of air and be very diluted.
“When you look at health effects of chemicals you consider their toxicology
and the dose, and in this case the toxicology is low and the dose distributed
over a very large area,” he said.
Hexazinone was used to control unwanted plants by affecting photosynthesis
and because humans had different biological systems to plants, they
were not subject to the same effects. Dr Dobbin believed ongoing water
tests in the Ballarat district would continue to read negative.
Water samples collected by the department on February 21 from town
water supplies and private rainwater tanks in Ballarat, Wendouree, Buninyong,
Creswick and Clunes, did not show any sign of the chemical. Home grown
produce was also considered safe as the levels of exposed trees were
below levels allowed for drinking water and other foodstuffs.
Hexazinone was broken down by micro-organisms in the soil after a few
months. Ballarat Department of Agriculture’s Reg Hill said hexazinone
- sold as Velpar L - was a safe chemical relative to other chemicals
used on food crops, but said no chemical could ever be said to be “totally
Although is has yet to be proved that the random yellow spotting was
caused by herbicide drift, a recent issue of Elm Watch (a newsletter
of the Friends of the Elms) reporting the yellow spotting, outlined
that a new Aerial Spraying Control Act assented to last year, made off-target
spray drift an offence.
However, the article said investigations indicated correct guidelines
were followed when Velpar was most recently applied near Ballarat. A
final environmental report is not expected for another seven weeks,
but a progress report will be available this month.
Letter to the Editor April 1994 - Ballarat Courier
We refer to the recent publicity concerning the damage caused to the
property of residents in the Ballarat district by, reportedly, Herbicide
While we understand that continued investigations need to be undertaken
to identify the precise cause of the afflication, we are happy to advise
both existing or potential clients of their rights to pursue claims
for compensation as more conclusive information comes to light.
We are already aware of some instances of stock losses thought to be
attributed to this cause. We are also undertaking our own expertise
in an attempt to establish the cause, nature and extent of the afflication
6. COPPER OXYCHLORIDE
In November 1992 several privately owned softwood plantations in North-East
Victoria were treated with the fungicide Copper oxychloride (CuoC1)
to control Dothistroma needle cast fungus.
Dothistroma was again present in October/November 1993 with the Department
of Natural Resources acting on behalf of the Victorian Plantation Corporation
in attempting to control the Dothistroma in 6,355 hectares of Radiata
Pine plantations in the north east. (2875 hectares of plantations at
Upper Murray, 2500 hectares at Beechworth/Ovens and 980 hectares at
Benalla). 100 hectares of these plantations were treated with Foli-R-Fos
"Pine Needle Blight cannot be eradicated from infected areas because
it is an air-borne fungal disease. Spraying with copper-based fungicide
is the only proven and immediate method of disease control. Aerial spraying
with fungicides will therefore be a regular practice in plantations
in north east Victoria . . .
In previous spraying programs, particular attention has been paid to
exclusion of riparian zones and streams from the treated area and stream
water has been routinely sampled for detection of any copper residues.
This has led to a major point of concern in that the unsprayed riparian
zones along streams are a continuing source of inoculum for the disease.
At present the systemic fungicide (Foli-R-Fos 200) is being evaluated
for control of the disease . . . This fungicide is being tested operationally
because of its extremely low toxicity to fish - the LC50 (96 hrs) for
Foli-R-Fos 200 against Rainbow Trout is estimated to be 1,500 milligrams
per litre." - Source DNRE.
Application rates of 1.6 kilograms a.i. /hectare of Copper oxychloride
as a 50% wettable powder. At that time the EPA had a threshold value
for copper in freshwater of 0.01 ppm and wanted pine companies to monitor
copper to 0.002 ppm. (Copper at 10 ug/L = 0.1 ppm). Most of the 1993
sample analysis results gave readings of Copper (ug L) <2 ug/L, however
a number of readings in Koetong Creek (trout cod habitat) came in higher.
Three readings of 9 ug/L, 7 ug/L, 6 ug/L out of 31 sites were recorded,
with only one site on Koetong Creek 13 ug/L being recorded over the
EPA threshold value.
Australian Water Quality Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Waters - November
The concentration of total copper in fresh waters should not exceed
2-5 ug/L, depending on water hardness.
The concentration of total copper in marine waters should not exceed
Natural sources of copper in aquatic environments include weathering
of copper minerals and native copper; however anthropogenic activities
can release significant amounts of copper to the environment (McNeeley
el al. 1979). Copper is commonly found in the +II state in natural waters.
The composition of the various copper species depends on pH and the
presence of inorganic and organic ligands in the water. As an essential
element, copper is readily accumulated by plants and animals; bioconcentration
factors ranging from 100 to 26,000 have been recorded for various species
of phytoplankton, zooplankton, macrophytes, macroinvertebrates and fish
(Spear & Pierce 1979).
The toxicity of copper in fresh waters increases with decreasing water
hardness and dissolved oxygen concentration. High concentrations of
chelating agents (e.g. humic acids, amino acids) and suspended solids
lead to lower copper toxicity, presumably by complexation forming less
available forms of copper (Alabaster & Lloyd 1982). Acute toxicity
data for freshwater species in forty-one genera are available (USEPA
1985c). At a hardness of 50mg/L, the values ranged from 17 ug/L for
Ptychocheilus to 1,000 ug/L
for Acroneuria. Skidmore and Firth (1983) found the acute toxicity of
copper for ten Australian species ranges from 200 ug/L to 7,800 ug/L,
and Bacher from O'Brien (1990) reported that acute toxicities for Australian
species ranged from 40 ug/L to 21,000 ug/L.
Chronic values for fifteen freshwater species ranges from 4 ug/L upwards
(USEPA 1986). Changes in fish behaviour have been demonstrated at concentrations
as low as 4 ug/L (CCREM 1991). A size effect has been shown for bluegill,
guppy and rainbow trout, with juveniles being more sensitive than adults
(Chakoumakos et al. 1979; Tsai & Chang 1981). Fish and invertebrates
seem to be about equally sensitive to the chronic toxicity of copper
in fresh waters. The sensitivity of a number of species of freshwater
plants that were tested was similar to those of animals (USEPA 1986).
Protection of animal species appears to offer adequate protection of
CCREM (1991) recommended a guidleine for copper based on hardness,
with concentrations ranging from 2 ug/L to 6 ug/L. USEPA (1986) recommended
a criterion based on a formula requiring a value for water hardness.
Hart (1982) established a criterion of 5 ug/L for filterable copper
in soft waters with low complexing capacity.
7. THE ATRAZINE CAMPAIGN
The Atrazine Campaign
From For the Forests
by Helen Gee
Annie Willock and Bart Wisse
In 1993, the people of Lorinna refused to accept the poisoning of domestic
water with herbicides used in the establishment of a plantation in their
water catchment. Atrazine was being sprayed in the Eucalyptus nitens
plantation to kill the aggressive snowgrass weed. Atrazine is a teratogen
and has been found to cause cancer of the ovaries, non-Hodgkins lymphoma
and to suppress the immune system.
Lorinna residents persisted in claiming, 'For us there is no safe level,
no acceptable level...we have to make a stand for other areas.' When
forestry leaders claimed their pursuit of a chemical free environment
was idealistic, the people of Lorinna argued that they were living an
Because of its isolation, in rugged north-west Tasmania, Lorinna has
the potential to develop as Tasmania's organically-grown food capital.
However, to be approved as a bio-dynamic farm, soil and water must be
free of all synthetic chemicals. Three and a half months after the spraying
in the catchment, the atrazine levels at Lorinna exceeded the World
Health Organisation's safe level.
Fiery and courageous campaign spokesperson Annie Willock told Simply
Living magazine, 'We are not ratbags up here, we're not into sabotage
or any of that extreme behaviour, we just want some respect for our
way of life.' This was a fight about lifestyle and the right of a community
to defnd itself, to rage against the dying of the light. Annie's story
is profound and inspirational and she and partner Bart Wisse atold it
with the passion that many have lost through distancing themselves from
real life. Editor.
"Prior to the atrazine campaign we had spent three or four years
as total recluses. It had just been the kids, us, the garden and home
education for five children. Our neighbour Tania Wilby came with a whole
lot of information about what Forestry was intending in Lorinna's water
catchment. She was looking for donations for some water tests because,
she told us, they are going to use poisons in our catchment and we want
to test the water.
Somebody advised us that we needed to write to the Chief Commissioner,
Evan Rolley, and to the Minister for Forests, Ray Groom; to remind them
that they would be held responsible if we had any ill health or other
effects from this poison. We had a computer so we wrote that letter,
personalised, for everybody in the valley. As soon as we had done that,
bang, we were in it!
All other activities took a back seat. It was such a direct threat.
Anthony and Jo were doing all the preparatory work. It was only when
we started to realise what we had to do and the nature of the beast.
I always felt it was a call to arms. Gaia was saying, 'OK its your turn
now.' And that's the way we approached it. It was not something we particularly
wanted to do; it needed to be done.
We contacted the Ombudsman and the Registrar of Pesticides; we went
through all the proper channels and got told, 'Relax, it's OK.' The
more they tried to make us feel secure the less secure we felt. We spent
six months on the phone and gradually came to realise the system was
designed to pacify and then to disempower and shut down community concerns.
So we started looking at direct action.
There was quite a core group of people here in Lorinna mobilised and
everybody was made aware of it and given letters to sign and send off.
We were putting out a monthly newsletter which was basically a home
education tool to incite the kids to write, for one thing, but it also
became the update on atrazine and our dealings with Forestry. The kids
would get on horses and go to the far reaches of the valley, delivering
circulars and say there's a meeting at one o'clock and we'd all meet
for half an hour. It would be enough time for everybody to say, 'No
chemicals in the catchment' and we'd all dissipate and I'd be on the
phone saying sorry Mr District Forester, no chemicals in the catchment.
We were so overwhelmed that the concern communicated itself to those
people who would otherwise be taken in by the chemical company rhetoric
and bureaucratic rhetoric that told them things were OK.
This was all pre-spray. We suggested we would hand weed their buffers
in exchange for them not using chemicals. Then we got back to one of
our hall meetings and people said they are going to come back in fifteen
years and we're going to have the same fight. We have all slaved our
guts out to have the whole thing stripped again in fifteen years. In
the meantime we've worked for nothing to hand weed a pulpwood plantation.
It's only going to be exported as woodchips.
There was a television interview. As spokesperson I was asked, 'What
do you think will happen now they have got this information?' I said,
'Look, the information is so good these guys will stop using atrazine.'
They laughed. I was so naive. I was convinced they'd stop! I really
was genuinely convinced.
A really significant contribution was the lead I was given by Dr Juliet
Lavers of the Environmental Health Association. 'Have you spoken to
Jack Lomax?' she asked. Then fifteen minutes later the phone rang: 'This
is Jack Lomax. If you are really going to get involved in a campaign
you need some non-violence workshops.' He said, 'I could come up next
weekend.' and I thought, 'Shit, it will be all over by then,' and felt
so guilty about this man offering to travel all the way up from Lachlan.
I felt like it was something too great to ask. As it turned out Forestry
hadn't sprayed yet and it wasn't all over and Jack came up and gave
non-violence workshops. Juliet came too.
We were meeting with Forestry about three times a week. Sometimes down
here and sometimes up on the coupe. One time we had a meeting scheduled
for the Thursday at eleven o'clock and at ten o'clock they were going
to start spraying up on the coupe. So we said, 'Don't bother coming
to Lorrina, we are all going to be up on the coupe,' and we were. That
was OK. They stopped spraying, they sent their guys away for a few days
or a few weeks. Negotiations kept going.
They gave us concessions. They did a ground-based operation rather
than aerial, to minimise the contamination risk; they gave us extra
buffers - they were supposed to be 70 metres from the stream and they
increased it to 100 metres. They were going to spray amatrol and atrazine
but they dropped amatrol and decided they'd use round-up instead. They
said that had to have a persistent pre-emergent herbicide, which was
atrazine, but they had to spray it in conjunction with a knock down
Paul Smith, the Area Forester, said to me, 'You've run a good media
campaign, you've had good coverage, but that's enough.' That was the
red rag to the bull! It was a fabulous thing to say to me. I knew then
that we really had to go for it.
Finally it was spray-day. We trucked up and stood in front of the tractors
and prevented them starting work. Alan Watson, the District Forester,
called in the big guns and they came and started arresting people. It
looked like the policemen spent all morning polishing their boots for
the media and they trucked out here with a great convoy of vehicles.
They parked on the road and marched in twos to the coupe; it was just
so funny. Only two of us got arrested. Sandra was so fired up. While
the police were talking to the rest of us, she ran up and stood in front
of the tractor driver when he started up his machine. The other one,
Martin Klussendorf, spent the night in jail because he refused to sign
the bail conditions. And that was a really important move because it
got national coverage as well as state coverage. We made the front page
of the paper:
With the negotiations at a standstill a number of residents moved onto
the plantation early yesterday morning obstructing operations by standing
in front of a tractor and spray unit. The driver immediately shut down
the engine and walked away from the machinery. 'I went to start the
tractor. Someone was standing in front of it'. he said. I'm not licenced
to run over people'. The Advocate, 5 May 1993.
We had a meeting of about 20 people and of those there were six prepared
to get arrested so we had to spread it out. The second day we were going
to get arrested and at six o'clock in the morning Tania rang and said,
'I can't stand it. I want Wilbur and me to get arrested today,' so we
swapped days. But after the second day of arrests they banned the media
from the site and we couldn't see the point in getting arrested. The
whole purpose was to make the wider community aware of what was going
Forestry said publicly that if they were going to permit us to negotiate
over our water catchment they would be in a position where everybody
would want to negotiate over their catchment.
On Saturday 1 May 1993 the Targa Tasmania race cars came right through
the coupe. I was worried all night about what to do with this opportunity.
We had been invited to afternoon tea with Rimpoche at the local Buddhist
Gompa and I really wanted to be involved in that, but on the morning
I decided we would go out to Targa. At 9am we brought out a ten metre
length of black building paper and a can of white paint and we wrote
on it in four foot high letters 'DON'T POISON OUR WATER MR GROOM'
We knew Premier Groom was in Targa with fellow Minister Peter Hodgeman.
There were seven of us and we walked and walked. By the time we had
made this sign the roads were closed to us, so we had to walk up to
the coupe through the bush. We got ourselves against the wind-row on
a sweeping curve and held up this sign which really stood out, white
lettering on black. Everyone had a long time to read it. The last car
came puttering along with Hodgeman leaning out the window. We knew they
had read the sign, there was no doubt.
We did a lot of other things; we went to Mr Groom's house. We took
a map to show him where the poisoning was happening and where the houses
were. It made me feel good about Tasmania that you could rock up to
the Premier's door and deliver. It's very empowering to do that kind
of stuff. Every time an opportunity presented itself we would create
something to do. We didn't set out with a goal and a map of how to get
there. As something happened we tried to find out how we could use it
to our greatest advantage; it was ad hoc.
Our first phone bill during the campaign was $900. It had jumped from
$200 to $900. We didn't have donations but when we needed some legal
work done we got Anna Crotty to find out all the water laws. It cost
$1000. To get $1000 was just completely beyond us. A couple of the women
made some carob sultana balls and were selling them around the valley.
The Kentish Women's Group held a vegetarian feast as a fundraiser for
us - the Cleanwater Network. They did it all and we got over $1000 from
that one night. There were people from Scottsdale, from Derby, and from
Scamander. People just showed up - it was amazing.
We went to Hobart in May and promoted The Davies Report, an Inland
Fisheries Report, 1991, on the contamination of streams. Davies reported
really high levels of atrazine in streams following rain in all the
plantation coupes that he'd tested. The commissioned Report said the
presence of pesticides in streams as a result of forestry plantation
spraying is a concern; the need to prevent stream pesticide contamination
should be realised at the planning stage of plantations, not left to
be considered as an inconvenience when the need to spray arises.
This was reported on 10 May 1993 in The Mercury.
We publicised the report on a Sunday; it got second billing on the
seven o' clock news. After that was a lull. Then the rain came. Forestry
promised us some tests. They have a statutory obligation to test pre-spray,
day of spray and then after the first significant rainfall. They tested
pre-spray, they tested day of spray, and then it didn't rain. A month
after spraying we had really light drizzle. Alan Watson rang me up and
said there was a bit of rain up there over the weekend so he asked,
the Department of the Environment - the DELM - to come up and take some
samples. I said, 'It really didn't rain much Alan; it's just a bit of
drizzle.' On the Thursday it absolutely pissed down and I rang him and
said, 'Alan it's raining; this is real rain,' and he said, 'Annie I
can't have them running up and down the State twice in one week. I just
can't do that.'
I was really frantic; I knew this rain was for real. We rang the emergency
number at the DELM and we said, 'We need this testing to take place,
it's pissing with rain and the Forestry Commission won't do it.' So
they sent somebody out. It was bitterly cold. We went out with our bottles
from the Launceston Environment Centre and took some samples. DELM came
out 45 minutes after us and took samples in exactly the same spot. We
were there to meet them and they didn't know we had taken samples. We
sent ours to Melbourne. They sent theirs back to Hobart and had them
analysed. Ours came back 0.2 parts per billion and theirs came back
0.1 part per billion. We jumped up and down; ours were twice as high;
the laboratory in Hobart was not certified to test for atrazine whereas
the Melbourne laboratory was. We were talking about miniscule amounts
of atrazine but we made such a noise about it, and we got heaps of media
because of the discrepancy - even though Paul Smith, Area Forester,
referred to it as 'a bull's roar away' from the 0.2 parts per billion
which was the World Health Organization - WHO - benchmark.
But because the atrazine was definitely there and there was a discrepancy,
after the next rain a week or so later DELM authorised a dual sample.
They took samples from a number of sites and sent one of each to Melbourne
and Hobart laboratories. Forestry wanted to show how responsible t hey
were and genuinely wanted to look at it and get it right. Paul Smith
had used this 0.2 parts per billion benchmark and the next result was
way over. It was 9.3 parts per billion; nearly five times the World
Health Organisation allowable limit. Forestry now had to come up with
some story to destroy the position they had created for us. So they
said it's OK for short term exposure.
Meantime, practically on a daily basis, I'd be ringing them to ask
for results of analysis. When they first tested they refused to give
them to us until they had the complete result, and when we had these
huge levels, we couldn't get any results out of them. We had rung and
rung and they passed us on one time too many. I said to whoever it was
on the other end of the phone, I don't actually need to speak to Brian,
I just need the results of these tests sitting on his desk, and the
Forestry staff member read them to me. So I informed the media without
Forestry having officially released the figures!
Primarily it was a water catchment and secondly it was a plantation.
We were negotiating from the water catchment position to permit the
plantation to be there and it was very exciting to see how far they
bent. They had no choice; the fear that this campaign would reflect
on Tasmania's clean, green image was raised as an issue in the State
Ricky Eaves said, 'I want to do an article for Simply Living, meet
me up at the coupe.' We went up there with our banner; it was my birthday.
We found they had put in a trial planting to test for browsing. The
seedlings were in the wrong place; they were in the buffer zone which
had been given back to the Lorinna people. So a group of our people
removed them. Then negotiations changed. We got promises of no fertlisers,
no more herbicides, no 1080, no synthetic pyrethroids and a promise
of negotiation over longer rotations. Immediately those trees disappeared
the ball game changed. The following agreement was made between Lorinna
Community and the Forestry Commission on Future Management of Gads Hill
Eucalypt Plantations. It was dated February 1994 -
'In response to the concerns of the community the Forestry Commission
will not use 1080 poison, herbicides, fertilisers or synthetic pyrethrum
based on chemicals in the catchments that supply water to the community.
Biological control agents (Bacillus) may be used to control leaf eating
beetles if growth of the plantations is threatened by defoliation.
The Eucalypt plantation, Gads Hill, has been established to grow sawlog.
Thinning and pruning of selected trees will be required to promote sawlog
...In the event that full funding for non-commercial thinning is not
available, the Lorinna Community have offered to non-commercially thin
the plantation within the catchments that supply the water to the community.
That being the case, the Forestry Commission will facilitate training
to enable residents of Lorinna to gain appropriate accreditation to
carry out the operation . . .'
As for our water supply, Forestry installed activated carbon filter
cylinders that required back flushing twice a day. For the first three
weeks they reduced the level of atrazine. DELM tested the water pre-filter
and post-filter every 10 days. After three weeks about 60% of the atrazine
present in the water was coming through the activated carbon filters
which were the only commercial filters which claimed to remove atrazine.
After they were showing 60% we didn't want one anymore.
They will not make a profit out of that 120 hectare plantation. They
sprayed 90 hectares with atrazine, and another part with Roundup. When
you consider all the travelling, the consultation, the water supply
remedies, it must have cost badly.
As early as May 1993 Forestry put out a call for public submissions
on alternatives to chemical sprays but it was only after the Derby campaign
that they employed Paul Dredge to look into alternatives. Meanwhile
they had a moratorium on atrazine. The PR was getting bad. They have
gone public saying they have ceased the use of atrazine and that it
cost them only 10% extra to reduce their level of chemicals by 90%.
They are still using Round-up, simazine and hexazinone. These chemicals
are just as bad but don't have the negative profile.
I think the campaign was successful. It wasn't enough but it was successful.
The media gave us a good run; it sold papers. What it did for us personally
was to make us really conscious of the whole forestry debate and it
gave us a foot into looking at the whole thing more thoroughly. We had
two calls from a member of The Wilderness Society who said cool off;
we support plantations. It didn't go down well at all. As for the wider
community, I think it raised awareness. As far as Forestry Tasmania
is concerned they did change what they were doing. They said to us we
don't want to poison any more water; but then they did it again in Scamander
and then Waratah, with aerial spraying and no concessions.
In the Lorinna plantation they put in trials, little efforts at scattering
woodchips and paper mats around the trees. They did a few experiments.
The Eucalyptus nitens plantation is a bit patchy; some are doing particularly
well and some are stunted.
We simply had to make a stand against the insensitivity of a government
department following its guidelines. Forestry Tasmania got so much bad
publicity they have since had to be mindful of water supplies downstream
of spraying. But corporate logging companies, North in paticular, don't
seem very worried about it.
Twelve months after spraying I had a soccerball-sized ovarian cyst
growing inside me; it was removed but it wiped out my right ovary. There
is no doubt in my mind that this was a result of the atrazine, no doubt.
I'm really clear about that. I can't prove it even though atrazine
is renowned for its effect on the reproductive organs.
Even though you can prove that your water, once pristine, is now contaminated,
unless it's contaminated drastically the authorities are probably going
to do a whitewash. Water testing is expensive but you shouldn't bear
the brunt of this cost. Even if you do, the difficulty is you can't
necessarily connect the spraying incident with whatever happens to you
health wise. It's like saying to a Rabbi, 'A tiny bit of pork won't
hurt you.' If you are philosophically opposed to poison in your diet
and you go to a great extent to achieve a chemically free diet, it's
incredibly more inconvenient and costly, but it's a lifestyle choice.
They tested Lorinna water until they had three successive non-detectable
levels. Whereas initially they tested every ten days, they later tested
every six weeks, for about four years. In January 1994 atrazine was
still detectable at low levels after rainfall events. Even with it being
no longer detectable there is a sense that this pristine water source
has been violated. There is a sense of impurity.
I feel personally tainted. To be obligated to feed this poison brew
to my kids, to my animals, to my garden, you know, all the things I
put time and energy into doing as purely as I can and as wholesomely
as I can. To have an external source create a situation where I'm obligated
to give them something decidedly inferior, is a real personal slight."
'You smoke too much or you eat the wrong foods but the role of unknowing
exposures to carcinogens in food, water, air and the workplace is ignored.'
Dr Samuel Epstein, Professor of Occupational and Environmental Medicine,
University of Illonois, in Tasmania in 1993 to deliver his annual Richard
Jones Memorial Lecture.
Atrazine: How We Won the (Media) War - Peter Coxhead
Native Forest News - Native Forest Network 1995
Forestry Spraying Atrazine - the world’s most widely-used herbicide
- is currently under moratorium in Tasmania. Forestry spraying of Atrazine
in plantations accounts for 85% of application while the remaining 15%
is used by industry, private individuals and muncipal councils. Despite
frequent incidents in the past, little or no coverage or waterway contamination
occurred, until the community at Lorinna gained a great deal of publicity
when their water supply was contaminated from forestry spraying. This
event was to have a profound affect on public response to the following
events in the Derby township in July 1994.
Atrazine: How We Won the (Media) War - Peter Coxhead
In June 1994 the newly-corporatised Forestry Tasmania (FT) sprayed
53 hectares of clearfell located 7km above Derby’s water storage at
Cascade Dam. Prior to spraying FT notified local council of their intentions.
The council, responsible for water quality, failed to notify residents,
one of whom approached FT to substantiate what was still a rumour and
to find out what results had shown up downstream of the spray site.
FT confirmed spraying and refused to release the results. In the hope
of forcing out the information, residents went to the media, since,
subsequent to Lorinna, FT had promised to release all spray results
to the public. During the three months that followed we had 63 newspaper
articles and considerable radio and TV coverage.
The initial FT response to the media campaign was to claim that the
dilution factor and Derby’s distant storage site meant that our water
would not show contamination. Twenty days later, atrazine appeared in
the town’s taps. The next council meeting witnessed residents spilling
out of the chamber, down the corridor and into the street - quite a
change. The council wrote to FT requesting a moratorium. In reply FT
sought a closed meeting with all councilors and from that day onward,
at the mention of the word Atrazine they would all chant “council does
not want Atrazine - or any othert chemical - in our water supplies,
but we take our advice from the state Health and Environment Departments.”
This may have eased their conscience, but didn’t do much for the residents.
The media campaign had Atrazine’s manufacturer Ciba Geigy desperately
trying to explain that countries were mistaken in their banning of the
herbicide, and that it couldn’t harm anyone. Especially not those people
in Italy with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, nor those in Kansas with bowel
- or was it uterine? - cancer. They seemed especially concerned to point
out that the Atrazine rain in the US - and Atrazine fog in Europe -
were only a result of naughty farmers who used the stuff incorrectly.
Maybe the fact that 75% of US water bores are contaminated with this
farmer’s friend was a clerical error.
Then we released information from the manufacturers that the metabolites
of Atrazine - what it breaks down into - were more than twice as toxic
as the compound itself. Ciba Geigy called a private meeting in Melbourne
(off the island) with their PR lackeys along with FT, North Forest Products,
the Health Department and the National Health and Medical Research Council
(NHMRC). FT agreed to send a list of the names of pests such as us -
totaling hundreds - hoping we might be influenced by Ciba Geigy propaganda.
Some government employees at the meeting agreed to lobby politicians
to try and ease the pain for Ciba Geigy.
By then the Australian Medical Association had come out against the
spraying of Atrazine. Dozens of us in Derby sent letters of liability
to the company, forestry, council, departments of health and environment,
telling them we held them legally responsible for the disaster. We held
a public meeting with FT who offered a water tanker for us to drink
from, which they retracted when it seemed we might accept. Then the
National Registration Authority of Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals
(NRA) changed the rules, amending its use near water and banning its
use by councils, industry and private individuals, but exempting forestry
and agriculture. By now Ciba Geigy Australia was copping flack from
the Switzerland head office, and requested that some of the bosses come
out to Tasmania.
In the end the NRA began a review of the health, environment and trade
implications of the herbicide (Atrazine residues have become a convenient
US trade barrier). In Tasmania a task force has been sent to monitor
and test for all agricultural chemicals on monthly basis. Forestry Tasmania
is spending $200,000 on investigating alternatives to chemical use in
plantations. There is a moratorium on Atrazine and Simazine by FT until
There has been a heightening of awareness across Tasmania regarding
agricultural chemicals, particularly as they relate to water quality,
and councils are looking at using super-heated steam weed control methods
in urban areas. The fight against chemical use in our forests and farms
and around waterways is not over - the cruel use of 1080 wildlife poison
kills up to 400,000 wallabies annually on farms and in plantations -
but a battle has been won for a while. Atrazine is now a dirty word.
Atrazine Pesticide Contamination of Tasmania's Waterways
Atrazine, a highly residual herbicide, is routinely used to suppress
weed competition during plantation establishment. Atrazine is mutagenic
and classed as a type 2B carcinogen by the World Health Organisation
(WHO). It is the most widely used herbicide in the world and is coming
under increasing scrutiny world-wide as a ubiquitous polluter of waterways.
Atrazine has been used for forestry weed control for 26 years. Twenty
one spray-sites in the north-east were studied by J.L.Barton and Dr
P.E. Davies (1990-91) and showed consistent and persistent contamination
of streams, at concentrations as high as 2,000 times the level recommended
for potable water.
In May 1993, despite repeated pleas and public protest from the local
residents, the Forestry Commission arrested the protesters and sprayed
a cocktail of Atrazine and Roundup in the Lorinna water-catchment. When
the rains came in July, the domestic water-supply was found to be contaminated
at levels many times the World Health Organisation standard. Nearly
a year and a half later, atrazine is still detectable at unacceptable
levels in the Lorinna water-supply.
The Forestry Commission called for public submissions to find alternative
methods of weed control. Following this process, it was publicly declared
(11th Aug, '93) that cost-effective alternative methods existed and
that the commission would not contaminate waterways after March 1994.
In June 1994, without consultation with the local residents, the Forestry
Commission sprayed atrazine in the water-catchment at Derby. Consequently,
the water for the entire town has become contaminated and residents
have been obliged to find alternative supplies at their own expense.
The Australian Drinking Water Guidelines state:
"Atrazine should not be detected in drinking water. If it is detected,
then remedial action should be taken to stop contamination."
Despite this, months later Derby taps deliver contaminated water and
the state government ignores the situation.
Less than 1% of spray is absorbed by the plants.
The other 99% is distributed through the environment.
Atrazine is very fast moving through the environment because of its
strong bond with water.
Very persistent and can last up to 4 years. There have been many detections
2 years after spraying in Tasmania.
The metabolites (break-down products) of atrazine can remain in the
environment for up to 18-20 years.
Ciba Geigy admit that two of these products are at least as toxic as
the parent chemical.
When mixed with fertiliser (eg when tree planting is done, usually
1 month after spraying) atrazine metabolites cab become as toxic as
the parent chemical at only one ten-thousandth the strength.
WHO standards for atrazine in drinking water = 2ppb (parts per billion).
This standard is set for third-world countries.
European Economic Community (EEC) limit = 0.1ppb.
The Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (currently in draft form)
set the level at 20ppb (200 times higher than the European level).
Guideline levels are determined for a 70kg male.
No assessment of risk to the elderly, small adults, the frail, children
or foetus or the chemically sensitive is made.
The National Health and Medical Research Council ignore the substantial
scientific literature condemning the continued use of the triazine herbicides.
- Disrupts endocrine functions;
- Mimics oestrogen in the body;
- Can reduce male virility (lowering of sperm count);
- Is of particular risk to pregnant women;
- Has been linked to breast tumours;
- Has been linked to cancers of the reproductive organs;
- Very low doses may damage sexual development of the foetus.
- Banned in Germany in 1991 because of concern about its detection
- Banned in Belgium;
- Banned in Austria in 1994;
- Sale suspended in Italy;
- No longer used in Scandanavian countries;
- Use in the Netherlands halted where water is intended for human consumption;
- Banned in Denmark as of May, 1994;
- Banned for non-agricultural use in Britain;
- Restricted in 28 states of the USA;
- In Germany and the mid-USA, atrazine has been detected in rain.
By Annie Willock and Peter Coxhead
8. Herbicides lethal to crustaceans, says study
The Tasmanian Conservationist
Number 262 December 1998
For further information please go to the Environmental
By Peter Spinks
Herbicides entering rivers are lethal to native freshwater crustaceans
such as yabbies, shrimps and water fleas, a leading scientist warned
The stark warning has serious ramifications for animals such as fish
that feed on crustaceans, which are at the base of the food chain.
"The whole of the Australian ecosystem could be at risk from continued
spraying with these herbicides," said Dr Dayanthi Nugegoda, who
led the research team in the Department of Applied Biology and Biotechnology
at RMIT University.
The research reveals for the first time that even the relatively low
concentrations of herbicides that are routinely recommended for spraying
pose a serious threat to native crustaceans.
Dr Nugegoda's studies have looked at the effects of commonly used herbicides
on the early life stages of the yabby, freshwater shrimps and Australian
daphnids, tiny water fleas with transparent carapaces and protruding
The study, part of a larger research project on the toxicity of agricultural
chemicals to non-target organisms, has provided evidence that herbicides
may affect the survival, growth and reproduction of indigenous freshwater
"Results of our study show that Australian crustaceans are more
sensitive to some environmental toxicants than similar Northern Hemisphere
species," Dr Nugegoda said. "Loss of native species from the
Australian ecosystem is a growing problem and it is vital that all chemicals
sprayed in Australia be tested for their
toxicity to non-target native species."
Dr Nugegoda-one of Australia's few ecotoxicologists-now plans to demonstrate
the importance of testing agricultural chemicals on local species before
they are licensed for release into the environment.
Her research was presented recently at an international conference
Dr Nugegoda joined RMIT this year after working as a lecturer in the
Department of Environmental Management at the Victoria University of
9. Spray fears - Plantation giant rejects risk claims
By Ruth Callaghan
Taken from West Australian page 1. 27/12/00.
The State Government has threatened to ban all aerial spraying of pesticides
on bluegum plantations amid concerns that the chemicals could damage
WA's beef, wine and aquaculture industries.
Use of one pesticide has been banned until at least February and Primary
Industry Minister Monty House has warned that other chemicals will be
blacklisted unless plantation owners change their habits.
But the timber industry has condemned the threat as a cheap vote-buying
measure in Mr House's Great Southern electorate of Stirling. Plantation
groups fear a ban could damage their own industry, which is worth close
to a billion dollars.
And while environmentalists have welcomed a ban, they say it may come
too late to prevent potential health problems.
Farmers, particularly in the Great Southern, have expressed fears that
chemicals sprayed on plantations drifted on to other properties, collected
on roofs and possibly threatened drinking water.
There are also concerns that aerial spraying has killed crustaceans
in some dams and waterways.
Mr House said he shared the community's concern that spraying had a
potential impact on human health and agricultural industries.
Earlier this year, the Health Department banned aerial spraying of
the toxic chemical dimethoate
- which can be fatal if ingested in very high concentrations - until
at least February. Dimethoate is used against moths. Another four chemicals
are commonly sprayed on bluegums.
Mr House said he had asked Attorney-General Peter Foss for information
about legally proving that over-spraying of plantations was occuring
in agricultural regions.
He also announced that Agriculture WA would meet beef producers to
develop a way of monitoring pesticide residue to protect exports. Mr
House said plantation managers would need to commit to a final code
of practice for the use of agricultural chemicals, which was in draft
But plantation investment giant Timbercorp denied that the bluegum
industry was not doing enough to minimise risks from aerial spraying.
Timbercorp spokesman Tim Browning said that a code of practice had
been in place since September. The industry had adopted the code fully.
He said Mr House was biased against plantations and was putting his
re-election ahead of the State's best interests.
Mr Browning said the same chemicals used by the industry were used
by canola growers, orchardists and on bowling greens.
If concerns about the safety of meat and wine were genuine, the same
risks would have been presented by the massive locust eradication program
run by Agriculture WA in recent months.
Conservationist Rob Versluis, a resident in Bow Bridge, between Denmark
and Walpole, backed a ban on aerial spraying, but said the Government
had taken too long to act. "We don't know that the drinking water
is safe, even though they say (the chemicals) break down in time,"
Mr Versluis said.
"The yabbies are dying in the river, so I just don't believe the
spray is harmless. We need to know if it is dangerous before they start
to use it, not ban it down the track."
10. Statement on the effects of clearing native
forest and replacing with plantation forestry at Mount Arthur
Associate Professor Brian Finlayson
Centre For Environmental Applied Hydrology
School Of Anthropology, Geography And Environmental Studies
The University Of Melbourne
'...B. Chemical contamination
Herbicides, 1080, fertilisers: The arguement that the spraying of herbicides,
application of fertilisers, and laying of 1080 poison is of no environmental
concern lies in the assumption that these rainforest soils have a thick
humus layer which acts as a filter to chemical contaminants. The surface
water containing contaminants gradually percolates down through this
thick humus layer into the soil where the chemicals are fully absorbed
and bio-degraded. Thus, the soil filters out all contaminants before
the water reaches the water table and becomes runoff in local streams.
While there is some truth in this arguement, it is not true for soils
that have been subjected to disturbance during ground preparation prior
to plantation establishment. When the forest is cleared, the thick humus
layer is dissipated through burning and ploughing. Also in these forest
soils, there are "macropores" (root holes, structural cracks,
animal burrows etc) where some of the surface water is transported directly
through the soil with no opportunity for contaminants in this water
to be absorbed. This is further complicated in areas of block fields
such as the higher parts of Mt Arthur where deep cavities carry water
laterally through conduits below the surface and transport these contaminants
directly into the streams. Some proportion of the contaminants will
be moved quickly down through the soil in macropores then laterally
through block fields emerging in springs and streams lower down the
slope. These contaminants all then pass into the food chain...
Conclusions: Contamination of water with chemicals from herbicide
and fertiliser application associated with plantation establishment
will result from the operations in this area. Contamination of surface
water from run-off, and soil erosion, will occur, increasing particularly
as the soil becomes saturated during prolonged wet periods. The surface
water will find its way into streams and rivers because of inadequate
buffer zones of undisturbed vegetation. The impact of this is likely
to be to cause ??????????? siltation and increased turbidity in water
11. Triazine Herbicide Contamination of Tasmanian
Sources, Concentrations and Effects on Biota
Australian Journal of Freshwater Research., 1994, 45, 209-26
P.E.Davies, L.S.J. Cook and J. L. Barton
Concentrations of the triazine herbicides atrazine, simazine, cyanazine,
metribuzin and propazine were determined in streams draining forestry
and agricultural catchments in Tasmania, Australia, between 1989 and
1992. Atrazine and simazine were used extensively by the forestry industry
in a winter spraying programme, and applications of the other herbicides
occurred in cropped agricultural catchments during spring and summer.
Of 29 streams sampled intensively for triazines, 20 contained detectable
residues. Median contaminations over all samples were 2.85, 1.05, <0.05,
<0.05 and <0.05 ug L-1 for atrazine, simazine, cyanazine, metribuzin
and propazine, respectively. All herbicide concentrations ranged over
several orders of magnitude up to 53 mg L-1, with atrazine and simazine
having significantly higher concentrations than the others. Atrazine
concentrations were examined in streams draining forestry plantations
for periods of up to two years. A decline in concentration was observed
with time, but this was strongly influenced by rainfall events. Atrazine
contamination from single spraying events persisted at a low level for
up to 16 months. Contamination of Big Creek with atrazine to 22 ugL-1
after aerial spraying led to an increase in stream invertebrate drift
only on the day of spraying and to a short-term increase in movement
of brown trout. On examination of biological effects of triazines in
surface waters reported in the literature, it was concluded that the
observed frequent contamination of Tasmanian streams with triazines
may cause occasional minor short-term disturbance to stream communities.
Contamination of surface and ground waters with triazine herbicides
has been widely reported in the Northern Hemisphere for many years (Waldron
1974; Muir et al. 1978; Frank et al. 1979; deNoyelles et al. 1982; Buser
1990) and has led to the restriction of their use in some situations
(Buser 1990). The triazine herbicides are reasonably hydrophilic, with
water solubilities in the mg L -1 range and relatively low control-water
partition coefficients. No review has been published to date of the
contamination of surface waters in Australia with triazines. They are
noted for their relative persistence and leachability (Muir et al. 1978),
with half-lives in surface waters ranging from six to eight months (Klassen
and Kadoum 1979). Given widespread use of these materials in both agriculture
and forestry, it is anticipated that such contamination would be both
frequent and widespread.
The triazine herbicide atrazine has received much attention as a surface-water
contaminant, resulting from widespread use (global use in 1980 about
90 000t; Ellgehausen et al. 1980). Numerous reports attest to its ability
to inhibit photosynthesis, change community structure, and cause the
mortality of aquatic flora at concentrations between 20 and 500 ug L
-1 (deNoyelles and Kettle 1980; deNoyelles et al. 1982) and to affect
the survival, development and growth of aquatic insects and the physiology
of fish at concentrations between 20 and 100 ug L-1 (Macek et al. 1976;
In Tasmania, Australia, the principal use of atrazine and simazine
is within the forestry industry, with some 40 and 5.5t, respectively,
of active ingredient sprayed on 27 000 ha of Eucalyptus plantation in
1990 (Barton and Davies, unpublished data). Spraying occurs in winter,
generally between the months of May and November, usually after rains
when soils are at a field capacity. Between 70% and 95% of the spraying
is done by helicopter. A significant proportion of sprayed plantations
are drained by, or border, perennial streams. The potential for contamination
of surface runoff is therefore high. Spraying operators under contract
to the forestry industry generally comply with guidelines published
by the Tasmanian Forestry Commission (Anon. 1988a), which stipulate
weather conditions for aerial spraying and no-spray zones (buffer widths)
for streams. Barton and Davies (1993) reported relationships between
atrazine concentrations in stream water draining aerially sprayed Eucalyptus
nitens plantations and site characteristics. Atrazine concentration
on the day of spraying was strongly negatively correlated with buffer
The triazine herbicides cyanazine, metribuzin and propazine are principally
used in cropping, particularly on peas, and are applied usually during
spring, from October to December, using tractor-mounted booms. Total
annual use of these materials in Tasmania is of the order of 10, 3 and
2t, respectively, on some 5000 ha of crops.
This paper summarizes the results of several water quality surveys,
including that of Barton and Davies (1993), for triazine residues in
an attempt to describe the scope of stream triazine contamination in
Tasmania. Single samples of stream water were taken either on a regular
basis or in relation to an event (spraying or rain) in catchments in
which triazines were used as a part of normal crop or forest management.
The resulting data are used to describe the order of magnitude of contamination
of Tasmanian streams with triazines. An assessment is then made of its
potential impact on aquatic fauna and flora in the light of published
literature. The paper also describes the responses of stream fauna to
a single spraying of atrazine, aerially applied to two Pinus radiata
plantations within the catchment of Big Creek, northern Tasmania, which
is presented as a 'worst case'.
Materials and Methods
In all, 44 sites were selected from 24 streams draining 21 forestry
Eucalyptus plantations around Tasmania. Streams ranged in catchment
area from 0.03 to 41 km2, with plantation areas ranging from 0.03 to
3km2. All plantations were less than two years old and were sprayed
once with either atrazine (as Gesaprim, 50% active ingredient) or simazine
(as Gesatop, 50% active ingredient) between the winter months of May
and November. Application rates were 8-24 and 4-16 L ha-1, respectively.
None of the sites had been sprayed previously. The proportion of the
stream catchments sprayed ranged from 100% for those streams arising
with plantations to 2% for large streams running through or adjacent
to plantations. Most plantations studied were sprayed from a Hellyer
2LV helicopter fitted with a 3-m boom and No. 8015 flat-fan hydraulic
nozzles producing a median droplet size of 500um. Spraying over bare
ground was conducted at an altitude of around 10-15 m. Two sites were
ground-sprayed from a tractor fitted with a boom, and two were sprayed
by hand, from backpacks.
Four stream catchments were selected for intensive sampling of potential
agricultural triazine sources - Skeleton, Buttons and Wilsons Creeks
and Claytons Rivulet in northern Tasmania, with catchment areas of 8,
16, 39 and 49km2, respectively. These catchments were all intensively
cropped for peas, potatoes, brassicas, onions, poppies, carrots, beans
and pyrethium, with a total of 974 ha under crop in 1990-91. Twenty-five
sampling sites were selected within these catchments, both within channels
draining cropped areas and in the main streams. Five other streams -
Kindred, Pardoe, Ghost, Sisters and Parramattah Creeks - were also sampled
on one to four occasions.
Cyanazine, metribuzin and propazine (formulated as Bladex, Sencor and
Agaprop, respectively) were all intensively sprayed by tractor boom
in these catchments, primarily on peas and potatoes, with propazine
being used for removal of pasture prior to cropping. Spraying was generally
conducted once during spring to early summer. The period of most intensive
use was from October to December at application rates of 1.5-2.0, 0.5-1.1
and 2.5-4.0 L ha -1, respectively. The three formulations consist of
50%, 50% and 48% active ingredient, respectively.
Streams draining plantations were sampled once on at least one of the
following occasions: between 1 and 2 h after spraying (day of spraying),
during the first day after the first major (>=5mm) rainfall event
(first rain), one month after spraying, two to four months after spraying,
13-15 months after spraying, and 15-16 months after spraying and immediately
following a major rain event. Half (55%) of the sites were sampled on
each of the first three occasions.
The agricultural sites were sampled fortnightly between mid November
and the end of December 1990 and between mid November and mid December
1991. Thus, sites were sampled on eight occasions, with four occasions
being immediately preceeded by heavy rain and having associated high
All samples were single spot samples taken from running water in solvent-rinsed
250-ml of 1-L glass bottles, with samples immediately spiked with 10ug
of a reference standard of either atrazine or simazine. Samples were
then stored at 4 degrees C and extracted within three days of collection.
Sample extraction and analysis
All stream-water samples were extracted by using Bond Elut of Spe-ed
C18 reverse-phase column cartridges. All cartridges were eluted with
a mixture of ethyl acetate and iso-octane (1:9). The eluant was stored
at -20 degrees Celcius by gas chromatography (GC) or GC-mass spectroscopy
(GCMS) after evaporation to 1uL, with references to standards and blanks.
Samples of stream water were analysed for cyanazine, metribuzin and
propazine with appropriate reference standards and blanks. Samples of
stream water collected prior to spraying were also analysed on several
occasions as additional blanks. Several batches of samples were collected
in duplicate or triplicate in order to check the precision of analyses.
All GC analysis was done with a Varian GC with a BP5 column (0.32mm
i.d.) with thermionic specific detector. GCMS analysis was performed
by using a Varian Saturn 2 with a DB5 column (0.25 mm i.d.) under autotuned
conditions. Detection limits were 0.1 and 0.01 ugL-1 for atrazine in
the residue survey and the Big Creek study, respectively, 0.1ug L-1
for simazine, and 0.05 ugL-1 for all others.
Other sources of data
An additional 85 records of atrazine residues from 29 streams draining
15 plantations were made available for this study by the forest industry,
supplied by the Forestry Commission and Associated Forest Holdings Pty
Ltd, Tasmania. These data were generated from single samples collected
either on the day of spraying or during the first rainfall event after
spraying and analysed in the same manner as described above but with
a detection limit of 1.0 ugL-1.
As much of the residue data was skewed and included a significant proportion
of data below the detection limit, comparisons between data sets were
made by using the non-parametric Mann-Whitney test for independent data
or the Wilcoxon signed-rank test for pairwise comparisons (Helsel and
Hirsch 1992). The Wilcoxon and the Kruskal-Wallis tests were used for
comparing atrazine concentrations at the same sites between sampling
occasions. Where comparisons were made between data with differing detection
limits, the data were reported at the highest detection limit in the
sample pairs and compared non-parametrically (Helsel and Hirsch 1992).
Big Creek Study
Big Creek, near Wynyard, northern Tasmania, is a perennial stream of
36 km2 catchment area draining into the Inglis River. The stream is
typically of low conductivity (100uS cm -1) and supports a large population
of brown trout (Salmo trutta L.). Much of the catchment has been cleared
and converted to plantation. Two Pinus radiata plantations of 20 and
66 ha area were established in the centre of the catchment in 1989.
The stream reach adjacent to Plantation A had no riparian vegetation
other than scattered grasses and low shrubs, but riparian vegetation
was more abundant adjacent to Plantation B.
Three study sites were established in the stream: one just above the
plantation area, one immediately below Plantation A, and one immediately
below Plantation B. Each site consisted of an upstream riffle, at the
head of which invertebrate drift was sampled and from which benthic
invertebrate samples were taken on each site visit. Below this, a 100-m
section of stream bounded by riffles at the upstream and downstream
ends was used to quantitatively sample the trout population. Below this,
a further 100 m was used to capture fish for physiological examination.
Plantations A and B were sprayed with atrazine (Gesaprim formulation)
on 13 and 14 October 1987, respectively, from a fixed-wing aircraft
at application rates of 6 and 12 L ha -1 (3 and 6kg atrazine ha-1),
respectively. No spraying had occurred in this catchment previously.
Sampling of residues
Water samples were taken several times on the day of spraying for each
site, then daily for three days. Water sampling was then continued at
intervals of four to seven days for one month, and all sites were again
sampled in November and December. Fine superficial benthic sediment
samples were collected from three locations at Site 2 on 29 October
1987, two weeks after spraying.
Water samples were analysed for atrazine as described above, with a
detection limit of 0.01ug L-1. Sediment samples (10g) were extracted
with dichloromethane: methanol (1:1, 100mL) in an ultrasonic bath. The
supernatant was filtered into a flask and washed with water (500mL).
The separated dichloromethane fraction was seperated and shaken with
50mL dichloromethane. The combined extracts were evaporated to near-dryness
and redissolved in 5mL hexane. An aliquot of the solvent extract was
analysed by GC.
Sampling of fauna
Trout populations and stream water were sampled at all study sites
on the following dates: 17 September 1987 (one month before spraying),
15 October 1987 (one day after spraying), 22 October 1987 (one week
after spraying), 29 October 1987 (two months after spraying), 13 November
1987 (one month after spraying), 15 December 1987 (two months after
spraying), 3 February 1988 (three and a half months after spraying)
and 10 May 1988 (seven months after spraying).
Invertebrate drift was sampled at all sites over a day-night period
commencing on the following dates: 17 September 1987 (one month before
spraying), 23 September 1987 (20 days before spraying), 2 October 1987
(11 days before spraying), 13-15 October 1987 (one to three days after
spraying), 21 October 1987 (nine days after spraying), 29 October 1987
(17 days after spraying) and 5 November 1987 (24 days after spraying).
Benthic invertebrates were sampled on each occasion when drift was
sampled, with the exception of 23 September 1987, and with the addition
of sampling on 11 November 1987 (one month after spraying), 27 November
1987 (one and a half months after spraying), 16 December 1987 (two months
after spraying) and 4 February 1988 (three and a half months after spraying).
Brown trout populations were estimated at all sites by the removal
method (Zippin 1958), using three passes of electrofishing equipment
(Smith Root Model 12 400 W, pulsed direct current). All fish captured
were weighed, measured and, on the first and second sampling events,
marked with an adipose and a pelvic fin clip, respectively, prior to
release. Subsequent recaptures were examined for the presence of fin
Capture efficiency of electrofishing for trout >=1 year of age was
consistently high at all sites, ranging from 94% to 99% for a three-pass
operation and from 86% to 93% for a two-pass operation. The efficiency
for 0+ trout was, however, low (<25% on two passes) and highly variable
owing to their small size between October and December (trout first
emerge into the stream in October). Therefore, only >=1+ fish were
marked in this study, and all population density data refer to >=1+
On each site visit, five trout were taken in the lowest site reach
by electrofishing. This was done before electrofishing the population
in the reach upstream, to avoid the possibility of capturing previously
shocked fish. Fish were captured within 15 s of being stunned, and any
fish that took longer to capture were released some 50 m below the sampling
reach before continuing.
Each captured fish was killed in a buffered (pH 7) solution of MS222
(tricaine methanosulfonate) within 30 s of capture. Fish were quickly
weighed and measured. Blood samples were taken from the caudal vein
after the caudal peduncle was severed within 1 min of initial disturbance.
Blood was collected in heparinized Eppendorf tubes and immediately centrifuged
to separate plasma.
Muscle tissue was immediately excised and a small piece was taken from
the mid-dorsal region below the major dorsal fin, snap frozen and stored
in liquid nitrogen. Livers were excised after the biliary colour was
noted, and the left lobe was snap frozen and stored in liquid nitrogen.
The brain (entire) was removed, snap frozen and stored in liquid nitrogen.
Plasma protein was analysed by the Coomassie Brilliant Blue method
(Bradford 1976), with bovine serum albumen solutions in 0.15 M NaCl
as standards. Chloride was analysed by electrotitrimetry, using a Corning
chloride analyser (Model 925). Glucose was analysed by the O-toluidine
method, using Sigma reagent kit No. 635.
Liver samples were homogenized in 10 volumes of cold 0.1 M tris-HCI
(pH8.3), using a glass-teflon Potter-Elvehjem homogenizer. Homogenates
were centrifuged at 5 degrees C at 30 000 g for 1 h in Eppendorf tubes.
Supernatants were assayed for glutathione-S-transferase (GST) activity
by the method of Habig et al. (1974) by monitoring absorbance at 340
nm and for glutathione (GSH) by the method of Ellman (1956).
Muscle RNA and DNA were assayed by the modified Schmidt-Thannhauser
method described by Buckley (1979). Acetylcholinesterase (AChE) activity
was assayed in brain tissue after the method described by Ellman et
al. (1961) at 18 degrees C after the considerations of Zinkl et al.
On each site visit, three drift-nets (500um mesh, 25 x 25 cm aperture)
were set, submerged, across the channel and pulled each morning and
evening for one day-night-day-night period. Material captured in the
nets was stored in 4% formaldehyde. This material was later stored and
fauna identified to family. Discharge through each net was estimated
at set and pull, using an Ott current meter. The mean discharge for
the period was then used to standardise net capture rates to unit discharge.
Five Surber samples (500um mesh size) were taken at random locations
across the channel in the study riffle at each site visit. These samples
were pooled and stored in 4% formaldehyde prior to sorting and identification
This study loosely conforms to a before-after-control-impact (BACI)
design as described by Green (1979), Stewart-Oaten et al. (1986) and
Underwood (1991). However, it conforms to the requirement for replicated
pre-impact sampling through time only for the drift data and not for
the trout or benthic invertebrate data. Thus, for drfit data, a two-way
analysis of variance (ANOVA) using the interaction term between site
and time as the test statistic, or a t-test of differences between Site
1 and Site 2 and 3, could be used to detect impacts of the spraying
event. For the trout and benthic invertebrate density data, only inferences
could be made about trends relating to the spraying event (Hurlbert
In all, 174 samples were collected and analysed for atrazine or simazine.
Concentrations of atrazine and simazine ranged over several orders of
magnitude from <0.01 ugL-1 to 53 mg L-1 and from <0.01 ugL-1 to
478.5 ug L-1, respectively. Overall medians were 2.85 and 1.05ug L-1,
respectively, for all samples. Only 11.5% of samples collected from
streams draining forestry plantations that had been sprayed were found
to be below the detection limit (0.1 ugL-1) for atrazine or simazine.
Thus, at least 88% of samples were contaminated with triazines. Of the
samples analysed for atrazine, 9.6% were below the 0.1 ugL-1 detection
limit and 24% were below 1.0 ugL-1. Of the 24 streams sampled, nine
did not have detectable residues at some stage during the study and
a further 12 (50%) had samples below 1.0 ugL-1.
Atrazine residues collected by the forestry industry ranged from <0.01
ugL-1 to 8.9mgL-1, with an overall median of 2.00ugL-1. Of these samples,
35% were reported as having atrazine concentrations below the detection
limit of 1.0ugL-1, and 17 (58%) of the 29 streams studied had all samples
below the detection limit. There was no significant difference between
the atrazine concentration data collected in our study and that provided
by the forest industry (Mann-Whitney U test, P>0.05).
In all, 118 samples were collected from the agricultural streams. Cyanazine
was detected in 37 samples, propazine in nine, and metribuzin in seven.
Concentrations of cyanazine, metribuzin and propazine ranged over several
orders of magnitude, with all medians being <0.05 ug L-1 and maximum
concentrations being 5.2, 1.3 and 3.3 ug L-1, respectively. These concentrations
were significantly lower than those of either atrazine or simazine (Mann-Whitney
U test, all P<0.0001), with 69%, 94% and 92% of the overall sample
sets, respectively, being below the 0.05 ugL-1 detection limit.
Triazines were detected in 22 of the 57 samples collected immediately
after heavy rain. This proportion was not significantly different, by
x2 test (P>0.5), from that for the 61 samples collected between rain
events, of which 22 samples had detectable triazine levels.
Factors affecting atrazine contamination
Atrazine residues decreased with time from the day of spraying from
a median of 8.1ug L-1 to a median of 0.3ug L-1 13-15 months after spraying.
Samples taken on the day immediately following a major rainfall event
had significantly higher atrazine concentrations (Wilcoxon test, P<0.001)
than did those collected immediately before. Thus, rainfall had a significant
influence on stream atrazine concentrations, causing transient increases
in median values from 0.3 to 2.0ug L-1 even after 13-15 months.
Big Creek Study
Spraying treatment and observations
The spread of spray drift was observed directly, by inspection of spray
droplets on the ground and of plant mortality. Examination of spray-droplet
deposits on wood debris indicated that droplet densities in the stream
were similar to those in the plantation. This confirmed that spray drifted
across the full length of the stream (400m) adjacent to Plantation A
and over a small section (20m) adjacent to Plantation B. Despite intensive
monitoring, no fish mortality of change in fish behaviour was observed
on the day of spraying.
Measured atrazine concentrations in stream water were highest on the
day when Plantation A was sprayed (22 ug L-1) and ranged between 1.2
and 4.6 ug L-1, with a median of 2.5 ug L-1, during the two weeks following
spraying. Concentrations ranged between 0.01 and 0.09ug L-1 over the
following two months.
Concentrations in a small seepage draining Plantations A and B ranged
from 0.8 to 68 ug L-1 during the two months after spraying, confirming
that such seepages were a primary source of contamination for Big Creek.
Sediment samples collected at Site 2 ranged between 1.6 and 22 ug kg-1
wet weight two weeks after spraying.
Total drift rates of invertebrates ranged from 442 to 4530 individuals
per 1000 m3 (with a mean of 1872 per 1000 m3) during the night and from
23 to 447 per 1000 m3 (with a mean of 136 per 1000 m3) during the day.
Night-time drift rates were always higher than those during the day.
Drift at Site 2 contained significantly (paired t-test, P<0.01) fewer
taxa (means of 11.5 and 7.5 for night and day drifts respectively) than
did drift at Sites 1 (means of 16.3 and 10.8) or 3 (means of 15.8 and
10.5). This was attributed to the poor quality of habitat at Site 2,
which had extensive silt and slash deposits resulting from clearing
during plantation establishment. Thus, comparisons of drift rates of
specific taxa were often possible only between Sites 1 and 3.
Both Sites 2 and 3 experienced increased in daytime drift on the day
of spraying. On comparison of the differences in daytime drift rates
between Sites 1 and 2 before spraying with those after spraying, by
t-test (Stewart-Oaten et al. 1986), the mean drift rate of all invertebrates
on the day of spraying was significantly greater than that before spraying
(P<0.01;). Differences between Sites 1 and 3 were not significant
(P>0.05). All sites experienced a decrease in night-time drift rate
following the spraying on Day 1, and no differences between sites could
be attributed to the spraying (P>0.05, t-tests).
Mean daily drift at Site 2 prior to spraying was 145 individuals per
1000m3 compared with 447 individuals per 1000m3 on the day of spraying.
This enhanced drift rate was mainly due to increased drift of dipteran
larvae (chironomid and nematocerid larvae) and Coleoptera (elmid adults,
helodid larvae) and the occurrence of large ostracods in the drift at
a rate of 80 individuals per 1000m3, which were not found on any other
occasion at this or other sites. The results of similar tests on Days
2-9 at Site 2 were not significant, nor were they for any day at Site
3. Thus, spraying was associated with increased drift during the 12
h immediately following application, but only at the site that received
significant contamination from aerial drifting of herbicide. No such
increases were observed for the site downstream on either day of spraying.
No significant impact of the spraying operation was detected for either
total night or day drifts when mean drift data for the three sample
sets collected prior to spraying were compared with the data from the
sample sets collected between two and nine days after spraying (two-factor
ANOVA, no significant interaction between time and locality, P>0.1;
Underwood 1991). Thus, spraying did not cause a significant change in
total drift on the scale of a week.
When this analysis was performed on individual taxa, a significant
impact on the night-time drift rates of hydroptylid trichopteran larvae
was detected at Site 3 (two-factor ANOVA, significant interaction between
time and locality, P<0.001). Mean hydroptylid drift rates increased
from 2.0 to 13.2 individuals per 1000 m3 at the lowest site. Similarly,
the mean night-time drift rates of hydropsychid trichopteran larvae
increased from 8.7 to 20.4 individuals per 1000 m3 at the lowest site.
Differences due to spraying were, however, only marginally significant
(two-factor ANOVA, significant interaction between time and location,
P=0.08), although the trend in drift rate at Site 3 indicated that a
response to the spraying was highly likely. No signifcant differences
were detected for other taxa, nor were any detected for any taxa during
the 9 to 24 days after spraying. Thus, two taxa showed a transient response
to atrazine spraying through enhanced drift rates over the week following
Total densities of benthic invertebrates ranged from 510 to 16 300
individuals m-2 over all sites and sampling occasions. Mean densities
for Sites 1, 2 and 3 were 4059, 4294 and 2606 individuals m-2, respectively,
for the two occasions before spraying and 5295, 6875 and 3905 individuals
m-2, respectively, for the two sample sets collected three and eight
days after spraying. These differences were not significant, and no
differences between densities or relative proportions of taxa before
and after spraying could be attributed to the spraying event. There
was, therefore, no evidence of a significant change in benthic invertebrate
density associated with atrazine contamination at either affected site.
There was no significant change in the number of taxa at Sites 2 or
3 after spraying or between sites (paired t-test, P>0.1), with overall
means of 19, 19 and 18 taxa identified at Sites 1, 2 and 3, respectively.
The populations of >=1+ age trout ranged from 34.7 to 48.9, 44.3
to 72.3 and 62.5 to 80 fish per 100 m at Sites 1, 2 and 3, respectively,
throughout the entire study. Mean population densities (+-95% confidence
limits) were 46.7 +-2.1, 44.3 +-3.2 and 78.7 +-5.8 fish per 100 m at
Sites 1, 2 amd 3, repsectively, three weeks before spraying. Densities
were 44.5+-3.7, 68.8 +-6.0 and 80+-3.4 fish per 100m, respectively,
one week after spraying. The 71% increase in population at Site 2 was
significant (t-test, P<0.01) and was sustained over the four months
after the spraying event, but the changes in density observed at Sites
1 and 3 were not significant (t-test, P>0.1).
Of the fish marked prior to spraying at Site 1, 59% were recaptured
three weeks after spraying. Similarly, 70% and 61% of fish marked at
Sites 2 and 3 were recaptured after spraying. These proportions were
not significantly different from each other. However, there was a significant
difference between the proportions of fish marked after spraying at
Sites 1 and 2 (60% and 39%, respectively, x2=4.8, P<0.05) but not
between those at Sites 1 and 3 (P>0.1;). The difference between Sites
1 and 2 was also significant in November 1987 but not in December 1987
or February 1988. All sites showed a general declining trend in the
proportion of marked fish in the population with time with the exception
of Site 2 during the month following spraying. There was, therefore,
no evidence of any change in population or in the proportion of marked
fish at Site 3 that could be related to the spraying event. There was
also no evidence of any change in the overall population of marked fish
at Site 2. There was, however, a significant increase in the number
of unmarked fish that had migrated into the site, which was sustained
over several months.
Plasma concentrations of protein, chloride and glucose were not significantly
affected by the spary event. All mean protein values were within the
range 11.8-17.7g L-1, and values for chloride and glucose were within
the ranges 127-156 mmol L-1 and 2.48-3.97 mmol L-1, respectively. Mean
brain AChE activities were all within the range 7.9-10.7 mmol g -1 min
-1. Mean hepatic GSH concentrations were within the range 0.06-0.20
mmol L-1, and mean GST activities were within the range 0.17-0.32 mmol
g -1 min -1. All these values are within accepted ranges for normal
unstressed trout (Kolvusaari et al. 1981; Hille 1982; Davies 1985; Zinkl
et al. 1987). There were no significant changes in values of any parameter
after the day of spraying at Sites 2 or 3 when compared with Site 1.
Muscle RNA/DNA values ranged from 1.3 to 3.8. RNA/DNA was correlated
with fish weight. A negative correlation was found for fish at uncontaminated
sites (Sites 1 and Sites 2 and 3 prior to spraying, r=0.781, n=55, P<0.0001).
Data from Sites 2 and 3 for one week and one month after spraying were
entirely consistent with this relationship. There was, therefore, no
evidence for any decrease in RNA/DNA in trout during the month after
spraying, and all fish had normal RNA/DNA values after that time.
In order to make statements about stream contamination from a water
quality survey, one must qualify the design of the sampling regime.
Both the rationale for choice of study sites or streams and the sampling
protocol must be addressed (Burton 1982). Concentrations may fluctuate
widely on time scales of days to weeks, and these fluctuations may be
related to a range of conditions - time since spraying, frequency of
spraying, runoff conditions, and more. The fact that significant relationships
were found for these and similar data from Barton and Davies (1993)
between atrazine concentrations and parameters deemed likely to affect
stream concentrations suggests that the use of single samples provides
at least a crude description of concentration trends.
Taking these considerations into account, the present study shows that
triazine contamination occurs frequently in streams draining catchments
where triazines are used. Contamination occurred more frequently and
at higher concentrations with the use of atrazine and simazine in forestry
operations than it did in cropped catchments where other triazines were
used. This difference may have several causes - seasonal, operational
or artefactual. The forest spraying programme is carried out during
winter and commences only when soils are at field capacity and the potential
for runoff is maximised. In contrast, the agricultural use of triazines
occurs primarily in spring and early summer, when runoff events are
Operational considerations are also important. Forest spraying is carried
out by helicopter with relatively high application rates, in contrast
to the ground spraying of triazines on crops. The type of triazine may
also influence its mobility in surface water. Atrazine and simazine
have water solubilities of 70 and 5 mg L-1 at 20 degrees C, respectively
(Vershueren 1983). Cyanazine, propazine and metribuzin have water solubilities
ranging from 160 to 1200 mg L-1 (Vershueren 1983; Anon. 1986b). This,
together with their octanol-water partition coefficients, indicates
that atrazine and simazine are anticipated to be less mobile in surface
water than are the other triazines studied.
The differences may also be an artefact of the survey designs because
the sampling of plantation streams targeted the day of spraying, when
high concentrations were attained frequently. However, the significant
differences between plantation and agricultural stream triazine concentrations
are maintained even when the data for the day of spraying are removed
from the comparison (Mann-Whitney U test, P<0.0001). It should be
noted that the agricultural streams studied had numerous dam storages
between stream sections, in contrast to the undeveloped streams of the
forestry areas. Dam storages and lakes are reported to act as sinks
for triazine residues (Buser 1990) and in this case may assist in the
reduction of stream contamination.
As expected, the highest triazine concentrations occurred on the day
of spraying after aerial application. Rainfall events significantly
increased atrazine concentrations in streams both immediately following
spraying and after 12 months. This has been reported elsewhere (Smith
et al. 1975; Frank and Sirons 1979). The most salient feature, however,
was the persistence of atrazine contamination over 12-16 months after
spraying. On the basis of concentration, it appears that a typical half-life
in the streams studied is in the order of three months, with medians
decreasing from 8.1 to 0.3 ug L-1 over 15 months. Other authors have
also estimated typical half-lives in water of the order of months (Klassen
and Kadoum 1979).
Frank and Sirons (1979), in a study of 11 Ontario agricultural watersheds
(mean size 4300 ha), noted that atrazine was found in 80% of streams
studied and that 62% of transport was associated with storm runoff,
with 22% accounted for by accidental spills. Peak and mean concentrations
were 32 and 1.4 ug L-1, respectively. Atrazine was also detected in
4 of 10 sets of stream bottom-sediment samples at concentrations of
up to 20 mg kg -1. These results are similar to those found for atrazine
in plantation streams in the present study, with the exception of high
concentrations found on the day of spraying. McAlpine and Van der Welle
(1990), reporting on herbicide concentrations in Western Australian
streams following aerial applications of granular formulated atrazine,
found atrazine concentrations ranging from 0.8 to 38ug L -1, with contamination
being dependent on runoff. Otton (1991) reported mean concentrations
of atrazine ranging between 0.07 and 0.53 ug L-1 for rivers in north-western
New South Wales during 1990-91, and G. E. Rayment (personal communication)
reported detection of atrazine in water and sediments of the Barratta
Creeks irrigation district, northern Queensland.
Effects of Herbicides on Biota
The contamination of Big Creek by aerial application of herbicide,
with almost maximal aerial drift onto the water surface, represented
a 'worst case' for the forest spraying programme,one that happens relatively
rarely. The study at Big Creek lacked both replication of treatments
and replication through time prior to spraying for the fish and benthic
invertebrate data that would be necessary for the statistically valid
assessment of pesticide impact (Hurlbert 1984; Stewart-Oaten et al.
1986; Underwood 1991). It does, however, suggest that contamination
at concentrations between 1 and 20 ug L-1 for several weeks does not
cause major changes in the aquatic fauna. The large influx of trout
into Site 2 suggested that trout were disturbed by the spraying event.
The lack of a decline in RNA/DNA indicates that this disturbance was
insufficient to cause a transient decline in growth rates (Buckley 1979).
Some invertebrate taxonomic groups apparently showed a behavioural avoidance
response in the drift, but this response was transient. This lack of
significant response to atrazine spraying was in marked contrast to
responses observed in a similar study of pyrethroid insecticide spraying
on a Tasmanian stream in which significant invertebrate mortality was
observed (Davies and Cook 1993). It should also be noted that the long-term
effects of atrazine contamination on autotrophy were not studied in
Of considerable interest is the effect on aquatic fauna of the observed
contamination of streams with triazines. This can be satisfactorily
examined only if assessments of the duration of exposure to various
concentrations in the field are related to studies delineating the effects
of such exposures. In this study, we assume that the spot samples were
taken relatively randomly through time. This is a reasonable assumption
for the atrazine data, where a frequency distribution of sampling dates
is spread over 300 days of the year, although with a peak in winter.
Thus, an indication of the intensity and frequency of exposure of fauna
in plantation streams to atrazine can be tentatively drawn from these
Typical responses to atrazine contamination as reported in the literature
are shown in Table 4 over different concentration ranges. It appears
that concentrations above 100ug L-1 are regarded as having short-term
lethal effects on aquatic biota, with a variety of sublethal effects
at lower concentrations, particularly above 10-20 ug L-1. Only 8% of
samples analysed in this study had concentrations greater than 100 ug
L-1, indicating that the potential for lethal effects of atrazine contamination
in the streams sampled was relatively low. Chronic effects on aquatic
plant communities are likely to be substantially more frequent in these
streams, with 26% of samples having concentrations over 10 ug L-1. However,
it should be noted that many plantation streams sampled in this study
had also been degraded by a variety of inputs of sediment and logging
debris during establishment of the plantation, from which they were
yet to recover. A combination of such effects would make the detection
of the impact of atrazine contamination on the ecology of such streams
The toxicities of cyanazine, propazine and metribuzin to aquatic fauna
are similar to those of atrazine and simazine, although a little lower.
Lethal toxicity to invertebrates and fishes occurs in the 1-100 mg L-1
range (Vershueren 1983; Anon. 1988b). Thus, the effects of contamination
with these materials on stream biota at the concentration ranges observed
in this study are expected to be minimal. It should be noted tht the
incidence of high-impact events such as spills has not been examined
in this study.
In conclusion, contamination of Tasmanian streams with triazine herbicides
is a frequent occurrence wherever they are used. The concentration ranges
observed in this study are similar to those described elsewhere, with
atrazine residues ranging toward the high end of those reported in the
literature. It is also apparent that atrazine may persist in streams
for up to 16 months after single spraying events. Concentrations range
widely, but significant short-term impacts on stream biota are likely
to be infrequent. The data are insufficient to allow comment of long-term
effects of low-level contamination on stream communities . . .
12. Victorian Hexazinone Research
Department Conservation and Environment - April 1991
Lands and Forests Technical Report No. 5
Weed control in Radiata Pine plantations by aerial application of granulated
S.R. Elms and H.T.L. Stewart
Forest Products Management Division
Helicopter application of granular hexazinone herbicide (VELPAR ULW)
to release Pinus radiata plantations from woody weed competition was
studied in an operational trial in Central Gippsland, Victoria, in spring
Velpar ULW was applied using a Dupont Applicator mounted in a Hiller
Aviation UH-12ET helicopter with an effective swath of either 17 m or
21 m, to apply rates of 4kg/ha a.i. or 3 kg/ha a.i. respectively. These
rates were delivered from 25m above the tree canopy, at an average ground
speed of 63 km/h. A total of 249 ha of plantation aged from 3 to 9 years
was treated. Heights of the woody weeds ranged from 1 to 6m.
At the higher rate VELPAR ULW satisfactorily controlled weeds less
than 5 m high, particularly Acacia verniciflua, Cassinia spp., Eucalyptus
spp., Pteridium esculentim and Leptospernum juniperinum. The lower rate
of herbicide released the plantations where weeds were up to 3 m tall.
Although control of Acacia dealbata was patcy, there was significant
defoliation and mortality of this species where it was less than 3 m
high. Acacia mucronata, A. obliquinervia and A. melanoxylon were not
satisfactorily controlled by either rate of herbicide.
Streamwater leaving the treated areas was monitored for up to a month
following herbicide application. Analysis showed that application of
VELPAR ULW at 4kg/ha a.i. did not significantly contaminate streamwater
for domestic use, the maximum level of hexazinone detected in streamwater
(18.0 ug/L) being only 3% of the maximum level proposed by the National
Health and Medical Research Council for drinking water (600 ug/L).
Helicopter application of VELPAR ULW gave precise delivery of herbicide
to the target area, as shown by sharp boundaries between dead and unaffected
weeds along the buffer zones. . .
Residues Of Hexazinone And Four Of Its Metabolites In Stream Water
After Aerial Spraying Of A Pinus Radiata Plantation Near Yarram, Victoria
C. J. Leitch and D. W. Flinn
Australian Forestry., 1983, 46 (2), 126-131
Residues of hexazinone in streamwater were monitored over a nine-week
period after helicopter application of the herbicide at a rate of 2
kg ha -1 to a 46.4 ha experimental catchment. The aerial application
was made in December 1981 following conversion of a steeply sloping
catchment from native forest to Pinus radiata two years previously.
Automatic samplers were used to sample streamwater at intervals of 0.25-2.0
h throughout the nine weeks, with the more intensive sampling occurring
during and immediately following spraying and during the substantial
storm event. A total of 69 representative samples were analysed, and
4 ug L -1 hexazinone only was detected in six of these samples, which
was well below the maximum recommended concentration for potable water
of 600 ugL -1. Such low residues were attributed to several factors
including the way the spraying operation was conducted (with respect
to soil moisture, meteorological conditions and droplet size) and the
presence of a 30 m wide vegetation reserve on each side of the stream
Residues of hexazinone in streamwater after aerial application to
an experimental catchment planted with radiata pine.
C. J. Leitch and D. W. Flinn
Australian Forestry., 1983, 46 (2), 126-131
This report describes a study of the off-site movement of the herbicide
hexazinone (as Velpar L) and four of its metabolites into stream water
following an aerial application by the Forests Commission to part of
a young Pinus radiata D. Don (radiata pine) plantation in the Yarram
Forest District, south-eastern Victoria. The 28 ha study area was sprayed
with 4 kg ha -1 hexazinone in November 1980. The spraying was designed
to control the woody weed Acacia dealbata Link (silver wattle), which
was overtopping the P. radiata. Water draining the study area flows
into the Little Albert River, which is seperated from the sprayed block
by a 100 m-wide strip of native vegetation.
Two sampling points were established on the Little Albert River, one
immediately below the majority of the spray area and the other 4.3 km
downstream, above the nearest domestic take-off point. Grab samples
of stream water were taken at one to four-hourly intervals before, during
and immediately following spraying at both sampling points. During the
five weeks samples were collected on the morning after any days during
which rain had fallen. The stage height of the stream was measured at
each sampling time.
Neither hexazinone nor four of its metabolites were detected in any
of the stream water samples at detection limits of 0.05 to 0.07 ppm
for hexazinone and metabolite A, and metabolites B, D and E respectively.
The National Health and Medical Research Council recommends a maximum
concentration of 0.6 ppm hexazinone in drinking water. It was concluded
that, under the conditions of the study, there was no detectable contamination
of the Little Albert River following aerial application of hexazinone.
Whether any stream contamination by hexazinone would have occurred
following rainfall in excess of the 91.8 mm measured during the sampling
period, cannot be predicted, although the likelihood of this would be
minimal, due to its rapid uptake by the weed vegetation, adsorption
by soil colloids, and the fact that the vegetation of the downslope
buffer strip showed no signs of uptake of hexazinone up to six months
13. Briefing paper presented to the National Registration
Authority for Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals
Dorothy Bowers - Community NRA liaison person.
Atrazine Briefing Paper
As a result of a call for agenda items for the next CCC meeting the
issue of atrazine and other triazine herbicides has arisen from several
sources. The major concerns being persistence in the environment, groundwater
contamination, and endocrine disruption potential. Atrazine has been
linked to diseases such as tumors, breast, ovarian and uterine cancers,
leukemia, and lymphoma. The risk of health problems is higher if two
triazines are present. Mixtures of other agchemicals and triazines can
also create a higher risk of health problems. Atrazine has been banned
in seven European countries some of these are Sweden, Germany, Austria,
European Union move to further restrict or ban atrazine. In France,
the Farm Minister has ordered the withdrawal of atrazine and other triazine
herbicides claiming they are building up in water supplies
and threatening human health. It is also thought that the triazines
were becoming less effective as some weeds have developed resistance
to them. The French Food Agency AFSSA found no risk of cancer associated
with triazines but that they posed a specific risk to babies and children
who they claim should not be given water containing triazines in excess
of 0.4 micrograms per litre.
Contamination of Adelaide's water supply with atrazine and hexazinone
Large quantities of pellets of atrazine and hexazinone were dropped
by helicopter on new pine plantations at Mt Crawford Forest, which is
close to the Warren Reservoir. Heavy rain was responsible for washing
the herbicides into the waterways and eventually it finished up in the
Warren Reservoir. Diluted amounts spread into the Barossa and Little
Para reservoirs before measures were taken to deal with the contamination.
The water had to be treated before it was released for human consumption
in townships. Initially, no public notification was given as levels
of the herbicides were supposed to be below levels set by NH&NMRC.
However, the EPA later issued a public warning after levels of the herbicides
were found to be six times
above the NH&MRC guidelines. (www.hancock.forests.org.au) Of major
concern is that there were two triazine herbicides present in the same
water which could increase the risk of triazine associated health problems.
If levels of fertiliser or other agchemicals are also present the combined
effect of all contaminants together could equal a significant exposure.
Triazine contamination of Tasmanian drinking water
In Tasmania triazine herbicides are used by all major forestry corporations.
They are applied by air as pre-emergent herbicide treatment when preparing
land for plantation. Atrazine is water soluble, mobile in soil and persistent
for 18 months or more. It has contaminated waterways in the catchment
where the spraying has been done.
The community of Lorinna in north-west Tasmania protested about Forestry
Commission plans to spray in their catchment in 1993. The Forestry Commission
agreed to precautionary measures to protect the Lorinna water supply
*Instead of aerial spraying, tractors with boom sprays were used.
*Instead of the usual 10 meter buffer zone along both sides of permanent
waterways, a 20m buffer was left unsprayed.
Despite these precautions, over a year later, the Lorinna water supply
was still contaminated with Atrazine above EEC guidelines (1ppb).
After spraying in the north east of Tasmania in 1994, water supplies
are affected there. The Department of Environment and Land Management
has only sampled in areas where there has been public concern about
the possibility of water supply contamination, so the statewide level
of contamination is unknown. Atrazine is classified as a 2b carcinogen
by the WHO and US EPA, and triazine herbicides have been linked with
ovarian tumours and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Atrazine is a preferred chemical for controlling weeds for the same
reasons that it is a problem for the environment. It is an efficient
poison, water soluble, mobile in the soil and persistent for eighteen
months or more.
A Tasmanian Study by Barton and Davies, Tasmanian Inland Fisheries
Commission for the Tasmanian Forest Research Council 1992 stated 'A
major concern with triazine levels is the long-term low levels (1 -
20 micrograms per litre) which could depress stream primary productivity.'
(Michael Hogan, Tasmanian Conservation Trust)
Triazine contamination of West Calder (Tas) drinking water.
The following are excerpts from Brenda Rosser's submission to the Waratah-Wynyard
Planning Scheme as evidence of their plight at West Calder. Spray drift
is causing herbicide contamination of rainwater tanks.
Drinking water contaminated by pesticides.
*Council have on record the incident where 4 household rainwater tanks
were found to be contaminated with Simazine in 1997;
*Council are aware that the Department of Environment have refused to
perform systematic checking of rural rain water when the evidence clearly
pointed to aerial spray drift travelling kilometres as the source of
*This essentially means that drinking water contamination is continuing
because of aerial spraying at 150feet (minimum) using fine nozzle applicators
in hot weather. (Dr Mike Raupach of the CSIRO has stated plainly that
drift will occur beyond the set buffer zones in the code under those
Drinking water contamination in other places
Wherever there are forestry areas surrounding water reservoirs e.g.
NSW, Victoria there is likely to be atrazine and other herbicide contamination.
The use of herbicides in these areas needs to be reassessed and more
stringent regulations introduced to ensure that drinking water does
not contain levels of agchemicals. In particular, buffer zones for aerial
application of pesticides need to be increased.
The US EPA has classified atrazine as a restricted use pesticide (RUP)
and restricted its use because of its potential for groundwater contamination.
Acceptable levels for atrazine in water have been established at 3
micrograms per litre. Mammary tumors were observed in rats after a lifetime
administration of atrazine and US EPA has classified atrazine as a possible
Atrazine can be absorbed into the bloodstream through oral, dermal
and inhalation exposure. EPA has found atrazine has the potential to
cause the following adverse health impacts when exposed to above maximum
*congestion of the heart, lungs and kidneys;
*low blood pressure;
*damage to adrenal glands.
Long term or life time exposure
*retinal and some muscle degeneration
PORTER, W E et al. 1999. Endocrine, immune and behavioural effects of
aldicarb (carbamate), atrazine (triazine) and nitrate (fertiliser) mixtures
at groundwater concentrations. Toxicology & Industrial Health
The paper was the result of five years of research into interactive
effects of mixtures of aldicarb, atrazine and nitrate on endocrine,
immune and nervous system function. The concentration of these chemicals
used in the research was equivalent to current contamination levels
found in groundwater across the USA. Testing across several species
of rats was done for changes to thyroid hormone levels, ability to make
antibodies to foreign proteins and aggression. Endocrine, immune and
behavioural changes occurred to doses of mixtures but rarely to single
components. This paper also discussed six testing deficiencies of currently
registered pesticides and suggested areas of human health concerns if
present trends in pesticide use continue. While this study is not large,
it raises some very important issues and indicates the need for further
research into mixtures of chemicals.
US NIEHS Research
Davis, Devra Lee. 1993. Medical hypothesis: Xenoestrogens as preventable
causes of breast cancer. Environmental Health Perspectives 101:372-377.
While genetics accounts for around 30% of cancer cases, total lifetime
exposure to xenoestrogens also has a role to play. Compounds such as
PAHs, OC's triazine herbicides and pharmaceuticals affect estrogen production
and metabolism and can function as xenoestrogens. Many estrogenic compounds
have been shown to induce breast cancer and recent epidemiological studies
on women with breast cancer showed breast fat and blood lipid levels
of some xenoestrogens.
Munger, R et al. 1997. Intrauterine growth retardation in Iowa communities
with herbicide contaminated drinking water. Environmental Health Perspectives.
A statewide survey of 856 municipal drinking water supplies in 1986-1987
revealed that the Rathbun rural water system was found to contain elevated
levels of triazine herbicides. Rates of low birth weight, prematurity
and intrauterine growth retardation in live births during the period
1984-1990 by women living in 13 communities served by the Rathbun water
system were compared to other communities of similar size.
The Rathbun communities were shown to have a greater risk of intrauterine
growth retardation than the other communities that had different sources
of drinking water. Levels of the herbicides atrazine, metolachlor and
cyanazine were each predictors of community intrauterine growth retardation
in southern Iowa after allowing for things like maternal smoking and
socioeconomic variables. The association for intrauterine growth retardation
was strongest for atrazine.
Arbuckle, T E et al. 2001. An exploratory analysis of the effect of
pesticide exposure on the risk of spontaneous abortion in an Ontario
farm population. Environmental Health Perspectives 109(8): 851-857
The toxicity of mixtures of chemicals is unknown - especially how mixtures
of pesticide products may affect fetal toxicity. The Ontario Farm Family
Health Study collected data on various factors. Women provided information
on pregnancies, including spontaneous abortions. Moderate increases
in risks for early abortions were observed for preconception exposures
to phenoxy acetic acid herbicides, triazine herbicides, other miscellaneous
herbicides. Elevated risks for late abortions were associated with preconception
exposure to glyphosate, thiocarbamates, and the miscellaneous class
of pesticides. Post conception exposures were generally associated with
late spontaneous abortions. Older maternal age (34 plus yrs) was the
strongest risk factor for spontaneous abortions along with interactions
between pesticides in this age group.
The triazine group of herbicides should be banned or severe restrictions
imposed on their use near waterways, water storage areas and domestic
dwellings that have rain water tanks.
Dorothy M. Bowes
Town has herbicide in water by Danny Rose 18 June
The Health Department says Campbell Town’s drinking water is safe,
despite the discovery of a toxic herbicide. Tests done by the plantation
division of forestry company Gunns Ltd have shown a minute level of
simazine upstream from where the town draws its water.
Residents were alerted in a letter sent from Northern Midlands late
last month, which also labelled the find as "insignificant".
The Greens raised the discovery in State Parliament yesterday, and
called for further investigation by Health Minister David Llewellyn.
Green MHA for Lyons Tim Morris said some residents still held concerns.
It is understood simazine is used in the management of plantations in
the Lake Leake catchment area, where the town’s water supply is drawn.
Water quality is monitored by Gunns as part of a deal struck with council.
"The contamination of drinking water with simazine and atrazine has
been a controversial issue over the past decade in Tasmania," Mr Morris
said yesterday. "At one stage drinking water was trucked into Derby
when it was found forestry spraying had contaminated the water supply.
"Campbell Town residents need to know whether the Health Department
was notified of this, and whether further testing has been undertaken
to determine what levels of simazine were in the water supply."
Director of Public Health Rosco Taylor said he was told of the discovery
yesterday. He said there was no risk to residents according to council
figures. "But I am seeking more details from the Northern Midlands Council
to confirm this information," he said.
Retesting shows Orford drinking water 'safe'
ABC News Online 4/9/04
A council on Tasmania's east coast has given an assurance that Orford's
drinking water is safe. Routine sampling by the Glamorgan/Spring Bay
council had raised concerns about herbicide contamination.
Early last month, the herbicide, simazine, was detected in a sample
from Orford in concentrations higher than the guidelines for safe drinking
water. The public health director, Roscoe Taylor, asked the council
to take more samples several days later. "The result cam back at under
the guideline value at 0.4 parts per billion," Mr Taylor said.
The Glamorgan Spring Bay Mayor, Cheryl Arnol, says the council is happy
to abide by a request from Mr Taylor to take extra samples after heavy
rainfall. "Whatever it takes to provide good clean potable water, it's
a cost that council has to face," she said.
The Department of Primary Industries, Water and the Environment is
carrying out further tests upstream in the Prosser River, and will look
at local spraying practices.
Toxic chemical poisoning Snowy: farmer
By Rossylyn Beeby Research, Conservation and Science Reporter Wednesday,
6 October 2004.Canberra Times
The Snowy River catchment is likely to have been contaminated by high
levels of toxic herbicides used to control weeds on pine plantations,
according to a local farmer and Landcare committee chairman.
Addressing ANU Forestry students, Gippsland grazier Robert Belcher
said atrazine and pyrethhoids had been used for more than 30 years to
control weeds in pine plantations on the southern Monaro.
He said anecdotal evidence from local spraying contractors indicated
herbicides were frequently used at high-strength levels that exceeded
legally prescribed safety levels.
"Atrazine has contaminated most of the rivers and streams that flow
into the Snowy. We have seen massive fish kills and in some cases, everything
in the river has died," he said. "I’m not saying that you shouldn’t
use chemicals but I think you should be starting to get a bit suspicious
about how safe they are."
Studies in the United States and Europe claim the herbicide is linked
to prostate cancer, reproductive problems and hormone imbalances. It
has been proved to cause sexual abnormalities in frogs and also cited
as a likely cause of an overall global decline in frog populations.
Mr Belcher told The Canberra Times urgent public meetings were being
organised at Delegate and Bombala to discuss the health impacts of atrazine
and other herbicides.
He said the rural settlement of Craigie had experienced a high number
of cancer deaths in recent years and locals believed these deaths were
linked to atrazine. "Eight people from Craigie have died from cancer
in the last five to ten years, and that figure does not include people
suffering from prostate or breast cancer.
"We know it is still being used by forestry operators in the area -
it has a very distinctive smell," he said.
Tasmanian farmer David Reid obtained documents under Freedom of Information
on the extent of herbicide use in Tasmania’s forestry industry and recently
gave copies of relevant documents to Mr Belcher and to the Canberra
Times. One scientific report published in 1994 stated atrazine contamination
from a single forestry operation persisted in streams at low levels
for up to 16 months.
The report, by Tasmania’s Inland Fisheries Commission, also says rainfall
causes significant increases in atrazine concentrations in creeks and
streams, and concludes that contamination of Tasmania’s streams by herbicides
is a "frequent occurrence wherever they are used".
In August, Delegate residents travelled to Canberra to express concerns
to federal politicians over tax relief investment in pine plantations.
The group met senior politicians, Cabinet ministers and one of the
Prime Minister’s senior advisers to outline their opposition to the
expansion of pine plantations in the region. They claim managed investment
schemes are driving an expansion of private forestry plantations, with
scant regard for preservation of native grasslands, bushfire management
and water catchment protection.
South Melbourne based company Willmot forests manages 16,000ha of pine
plantations in the Delegate and Bombala regions. The company could not
be contacted last night but has previously stated that it was a major
employer and injected $9.9 million directly into the region last year.
Mr Belcher, chair of the Snowy River Landcare committee for the past
14 years, believes forestry herbicide use should be a key political
consideration for Eden-Monaro residents in this weekend’s election.
"I don’t know how you can talk about that sort of chemical use and
expect to see this planet operating in another thousand years."
Ecotoxoicity of Mix Contaminants: Effects of Copper
and Atrazine Combination on Soil Biota (International Contaminated
Site Remediation Conference Adelaide 15-18 September 2004)
Megnaraj, M., Krishnamurti, G.S.R., Chen, Z., Owens, G and Naidu, R.
Centre for Environmental Risk Assessment and Remediation, University
of South Australia, Mawson Lakes, SA 5095, Australia.
Most of the published literature on ecotoxicology deals with single
contaminants. However, the reality is that contaminants exist as mixtures
and the toxicity due to mixed contaminants can be totally different
and more severe than single contaminants. The effects of heavy metal
and pesticide pollution on soil biota with the exception of soil algae
have been extensively studied particularly in relation to either pesticides
or heavy metals alone. Although inorganic and organic pollutants are
present simultaneously in many soils, literature on their combined effects
on soil biota is very scant. Elevated levels of copper (Cu) in soils
due to agricultural, industrial and municipal activities has been reported.
On the other hand, atrazine (6-chloro-N-ethyl-N-isopropyl-1,3,5-triazine-2,4-diamine),
is one of the most widely used herbicides globally to control annual
grass and broad-leaved weeds in various crops and forestry. Hence, Cu
and atrazine are likely to occur in combination in many agricultural
soils. The objective of this study is to assess the bioavailability
and associated non-target effects of atrazine and Cu alone and in combination
towards the soil biological health and its rate of recovery.
2. Materials and Methods
Soil was collected from an arable fallow agricultural field in the
Cookeplains region, South Australia. The important physico-chemical
characteristics of the soil include pH 7.2 (1:4 soil:water ratio); maximum
water holding capacity (WHC), 22%; total carbon, 0.8%; total nitrogen,
0.09%; fine sand, 46.2%; coarse sand, 45.1%; silt, 0.8%, caly, 8%. The
toxicity of atrazine and copper (Cu) alone and in combination towards
the algal populations, microbial biomass and enzymatic activities were
determined in soil microcosms (Megharaj et al., 1999a,b) spiked with
filter sterilized aqueous solutions of atrazine and Cu (as copper sulfate).
Also the effect of Cu on persistence of atrazine in the soil was determined.
Dehydrogenase activity in the soil was determined following the methods
of Casida et al. (1964). The activities of phosphatase and B-glucosidase
were determined according to Tabatabai (1982). Atrazine was extracted
with 90% acetonitrile in water from soil, was determined by HPLC. The
water extractable and exchangeable Cu (ammonium nitrate extractable)
in the soil was determined by atomic absorption spectrophotometry. The
toxicity of Cu and atrazine in soil solution was determined by algal
(Chlorococcum sp.) growth assay (Megharaj et al., 2000). The speciation
of Cu in soil solution was calculated with MINTEQA2/PRODEFA model.
3. Results and Discussion
All the tested concentrations of both atrazine (1-50mg kg -1 soil)
and copper (5-200 mg kg -1 soil) caused a large reduction on the viable
counts of algae, the decrease being dose dependent. Thus, the percent
inhibition of algal population in all treatments ranged between 53 and
26 compared to the untreated soil. There was nearly a 53% inhibition
of algal population even at 1 and 5 mg kg -1 soil of atrazine and copper
respectively. Soil microorganisms and their biochemical activities are
extremely important in nutrient cycling and energy flow in the ecosystems.
Dehydrogenase activity (an intracellular enzyme), a useful indicator
of overall microbial activity in soils has been recommended to measure
the side effects of agricultural chemicals in soils (Gerber et al.,
1991). Applications of atrazine and copper alone up to 5 mg kg-1 soil
had no effect on the dehydrogenase activity whereas the combination
of 2 mg atrazine kg-1 and 5 mg Cu kg-1 had a slight inhibitory effect.
The higher applications of atrazine (10-50 mg kg-1 soil) and Cu (10-100
mg kg-1 soil) affected greater inhibition of dehydrogenase activity
of the soil. Interestingly, phophatase was only marginally inhibited
by the higher application rates of atrazine (50 mg kg-1 soil) and Cu
(>50 mg-kg -1 soil), whereas glucosidase was unaffected by all the treatments.
The results of this study indicate that soil algae and dehydrogenase
activity in soil can serve as sensitive indicators of pollution. Autoclaving
the soil (control) increased the persistence of atrazine indicating
the involvement of microorganisms in the disappearance of atrazine.
Application of copper up to 10 mg Cu kg -1 soil increased the persistence
of atrazine (2 mg kg -1 soil in soil). However, 50mg Cu kg-1 soil increased
the persistence of atrazine by 3 -fold over the soil not spiked with
copper. This clearly indicates the negative effect of Cu on the degradation
of atrazine presumably by killing the microorganisms responsible for
atrazine degradation in soil. This result has major implications to
soils that are co contaminated with Cu and organic pesticides.
The solution phase concentration of Cu and its speciation in the soil
solution in relation to the toxicity and bioavailability as determined
by the algal bioassay will be discussed in detail.
Casida LE, Llien D, Santore T (1964) Soil Science 98, 371-376.
Megharaj M, Singleton I, Kookana R, Naidu R (1999) Soil Biol Biochem
Megharaj M, Singleton I, McClure NC, Naidu R (2000) Arch Environ Contam
Toxicol 38: 439-445
Tabatabai MA (1982) Methods of soil Analysis, part 2. Chemical and
microbiological properties. Soil Science Society of America, Madison,
Oyster deaths prompt health concerns Tuesday,
26 October 2004 ABC Radio
There are concerns about the quality of drinking water at Smithton
in Tasmania's north-west. The Australian Medical Association (AMA) wants
tests done immediately, after the discovery that more than 50,000 oysters
have died in Duck Bay. The AMA's Tasmanian president, Michael Aizen,
has been pushing for a ban on aerial spraying since thousands of oysters
died on the east coast earlier this year.
Dr Aizen says the State Government should be reacting quickly to the
latest event. "Public health has to be called in for extensive testing
and there has to be a survey of disease patterns," he said. "Firstly
to get baseline information as to the current health profile and secondly
to identify any possible abnormalities in terms of cancers or other
10 September 2002 Simazine Testing Rocky River, Murrungower
(Orbost Water Supply East Gippsland, Victoria)
Letter to Harris Daishowa
"As discussed with you, the initial tests (4th June 2002 pre-spraying)
returned a result of <0.02ug/L however, Simazine was detected at
a level of 0.2ug/L in the post spraying sample taken on 7th August 2002...
Given that the sampling program was limited to a single standard before
and after spraying events and no further investigations had been undertaken
upstream of your site or at sites inbetween Murrungower and our offtake,
it can only be assumed that the source of contamination was the spraying
Plantation chemical risk By VANESSA BURROW
October 21, 2004 Warrnambool Standard
Otway Ranges November 2004:
Midway Plantations in the Charleys Creek catchment. Note lack of buffers.
Charleys Creek lies in the Gellibrand Water Catchment which supplies
drinking water to 50,000 people in Victoria's south west.
PLANNED blue gum plantations on the flood plains of the Gellibrand
River have local residents up in arms, concerned that chemicals could
leech into the south-west's water supply.
A planning application before the Colac/Otway Shire for about 200 hectares
of blue gums would add to an already existing plantation of more than
300 hectares on Chapple Creek in the Lower Otways.
The plantations conform to regulations that require buffer zones between
the new trees and water ways but in a major flood the areas can become
inundated to depths of two or three feet.
A local resident, who would not be named, said he was concerned for
the health of the river and water reticulated to Warrnambool and surrounds
by South West Water from the Gellibrand River pumping stations.
In a worst-case scenario, herbicides and pesticides used by the Geelong-based
plantation owner Midway could contaminate the water supply, he said.
"Natural bush is fine but a plantation that gets sprayed with chemicals
- then we have a worry," the man said.
According to the resident, the area intended to be planted with blue
gums experienced at least one flooding each year.
Midway's resource development manager Jim Knott said the company was
accredited under the Australian Forestry standards and regularly checked
water quality around plantations. The company used Roundup and Eucmix
preplant herbicides to destroy weeds about three months before trees
were planted in winter. After the initial application of herbicides,
chemicals were used only for spot weed control where necessary and had
little residue because of a short active life span, Mr Knott said.
South West Water's chief executive officer Russell Worland said the
company expected blue gum plantations would conform with the forestry
code of practice. "That would require that they manage the development
of the forest having regard to its location and the possibility that
parts of the land may be subject to flooding," he said.
"We understand that the degradable nature of Roundup allows for its
application in water catchment areas." During winter flooding periods,
South West Water did not draw significant volumes of water from the
Lower Otways, but sourced water from a catchment area high in the Otway
Ranges, Mr Worland added.
"South West Water has recently upgraded its water testing regime so
that we are testing far wider across a range of possible contaminants."
Corangamite Catchment Management Authority flood plain and drainage
team leader Tony Jones said two planning applications for blue gum plantations
were being considered. "We have received calls from concerned citizens
and we will do all we can to safeguard (the waterways) and make sound
recommendations to the council about the applications," he said.
Midway owns about 16,000 hectares of plantations in Victoria.
Otway Ranges November 2004:
Midway Plantations in the Charleys Creek catchment. Note lack of buffers.
Charleys Creek lies in the Gellibrand Water Catchment which supplies
drinking water to 50,000 people in Victoria's south west.
Water Bore Fears by Terry Sim
On the Land The Standard Nov 4, 2004 P1
Hawkesdale district farmers claim increasing irrigation
- or blue gum plantations - could be causing stock bore levels to drop
by six to 11 metres during peak demand periods.
At a meeting of the Hawkesdale branch of the Victorian
Farmers Federation last week, they called for better monitoring of irrigation
and stock bores and more test bores in the area.
President Roger Learmouth said the branch did not have
proof of local interference between bores. But farmers were concerned
about the number of irrigation licences which have been granted in the
area and the impact on stock and domestic users. SRW deputy chief executive
Graham Hawke told the meeting he would provide data from test bores
in the Tarrone area and that the Department of Sustainability planned
to do a groundwater research assessment of the district.
Tarrone farmer Bill Stanford has been lobbying Southern
Rural Water and authorities over falling bore levels in the area. He
recently lost a Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal case objecting
to an irrigation licence for a Spencers Road dairy farm.
Mr Stafford said district farmers were taking water from
a low-yielding aquifer which he and others believed was being over-utilised,
and water levels in new and old stock bores had dropped. The water level
in one bore on his property sunk in 1996 has dropped by up to 11 metres
from autumn to late summer.
"There is not enough water there for everybody," he said.
"To us it just seems to be too much of a coincidence.
"We have never had any problems with these bores in the
previous 50 years."
Farmers had not dramatically increased stock numbers and
the only major water demand changes in the area had been the number
of large irrigation licences granted and the planting of blue gums,
Mr Stafford said.
"We need more test bores and monitoring of irrigation
bores." Mr Stafford said he would approach the Minister for Water, John
Thwaites, on the issue.
The area where farmers believe irrigation bores or blue
gums could be affecting supply is west and north of the declared Yangery
Groundwater Supply Protection Area.
Yangery aquifer groundwater usage has varied from 45-49
per cent of the allocations over the past two years. Allocations total
8427 mega litres and the aquifer’s permissible annual volume is 11,500
Mr Hawke said yesterday that SRW had asked DSE at least
12 months ago to look at declaring a new groundwater management area
in the area or at extending the Yangery GSPA.
He recently received a commitment from DSE that the department
intended to accelerate a planned resource assessment of the area. Any
resource assessment would also include the impact of blue gum plantations
or other land use changes, Mr Hawke said.
He said there was anecdotal evidence of fluctuating bore
levels in stock and domestic bores near blue gum plantations on hot,
Gum Blues by Glen Bernoth The
Standard Nov 6, 2004 P1
Simpson, Timboon and Cobden communities fear their towns
are slowly dying as the number of dairy farms sold to blue gum plantation
companies nears 40.
The dairy-rich Heytesbury district will soon resemble
its pre-settlement days when 44,000 hectares of bush rendered the land
agriculturally useless, according to forecasts.
In a special by The Standard, farmers, politicians, town
progress associations and schools fear blue gums are sounding the death
knell for the district. Already school enrolments are well down, teachers
have been laid-off, businesses are felling the squeeze and the local
MP’s office is inundated by concerned residents.
"Blue gums are certainly affecting our enrolment. Absolutely
we’ve lost families because of the blue gums," Timboon P12 School principal
Bryan Ward said.
Simpson farmer Rob Leishman has calculated the economy
in the southern part of the Corangamite Shire is already between $70-80
million worse off each year.
"The world is short of food and here we are planting good
dairy country out in trees," he said. "When I go to heaven, I want to
come back as a white ant because that’s all that will be left to eat
- wood." Mr Leishman is so concerned for the future of his family he
has organised a public meeting to be held at the Simpson Hall at 8pm
on November 19.
Timboon resident Alan Kerr predicted 400 people will be
there - such is the widespread concern in the area. Member for the Western
Province John Vogels MLC and Polwarth MP Terry Mulder will also be there.
They both said the issue threatened the social fabric of the area.
The issue gained prominence with a variety of the region’s
stakeholders, such as the Corangamite and Glenelg Hopkins catchment
management authorities. Together with the co-operation of others, they
are in the final stages of a research project into the impact of blue
gum plantations on ground and surface water.
Corangamite Shire has organised a workshop on November
16 with relevant groups in an effort to open up lines of communication.
Farmer sad to see dairy land go
by Glen Bernoth The Standard Nov 6, 2004 p1
Peter Harkin soil his dairy herd in June this year, but
said he could never watch his farming property at Paaratte turned into
a blue gum plantation.
Instead, Mr Harkin diversified into beef cattle and continues
to work the family farm. He said he could understand dairy farmer’s
frustrations at continued poor returns, but personally made a decision
never to sell to a blue gum plantation company.
"It must be very hard for a farmer to sell their farm
and know it is going into trees - to just walk away and know it’s going
back to bush - I couldn’t do it," he said.
"I’ve got a lot of friends who have got out of dairying
and some of those have gone into trees, which is their decision. "Blue
gums give farmers an option to sell - a lot of farms have been on the
market for quite a while. "If you look at the upside, farmers who want
to sell their property get a good, or reasonable, price for it.
"The downside is we’re losing families from the district
and businesses are going to suffer - vets, stock agents, machinery dealers
… "If families leave, there’s schools and hospitals as well. It’s the
whole community. "It will be to the detriment of the community if more
and more farmers sell to the trees - it already is to the detriment.
"I went to price a car recently and the first thing the bloke said to
me was that he was going to have to think about putting staff off soon
if more farmers left."
Mr Harkin said the reality was, if the dairy industry
was paying farmers fairer milk prices the properties timber companies
were buying would never be on the market.
"I would suggest, if a tree company can afford to come
in and buy good dairy land, then the land is too cheap, which is reflective
of the price of milk over five or six years," he said.
Warrnambool Standard - On the Land 11/11/04 Chemical
Blue gums sprayed close to waterways
By Terry Sim
Herbicides have been sprayed on blue gum plantation land
within metres of streams through the Otway catchment and in flood-prone
areas, prompting a call by concerned farmers for improved practices,
water quality, soil and fish testing.
Farmers in the area have collected evidence indicating
forestry company Midway had earlier this year helicopter-sprayed a former
dairy farm, once owned by the Meade family on the Tomahawk Creek, with
a mix of herbicides including Eucmix, glyphosate, metsulfuron-methyl,
simazine, clopyralid and terbacil.
Midway resource development manager Jim Knott confirmed
yesterday the range of herbicides was used by the company. Only registered
and required herbicides for specific weeds were used, he said.
Kennedy's Creek farmer Andrew Bone said pre-planting spraying
has been done on a Midway plantation - formerly Mahoney's farm - alongside
Chapple and Skinner creeks, which lead into the Gellibrand River above
a pumping station supplying water to Warrnambool. Blue gums had also
been planted by Midway on sprayed areas on another farm - Sadler's farm
- close to Kennedy's Creek, which also flows into the Gellibrand River.
Mr Bone is concerned about water quality for consumers,
the possibility of spray drift and the Gellibrand River status as one
of the best blackfish streams in Victoria.
South West Water chief executive officer Russell Worland
said the authority required Midway to have an eight-metre cultivation
buffer from permanent streams under an environmental management and
forest practices plan for the Mahoney farm. Machinery activity must
be minimal and not occur within five metres of the edge of a permanent
stream. Mr Knott said Eucmix was not used on Mahoney's farm.
The manufacturer's safety directions for Eucmix, which
contains Terbacil and sulfometuron methyl, state it should not be applied
within 60 metres of a recognised waterway or dam, or further if native
riverbank vegetation may be damaged.
Macspred, the Ballarat manufacturer of Eucmix , said the
chemical was dangerous to aquatic life and also should not be applied
within 20 metres of a well, sink hole, intermittent or perennial stream,
nor used on leached, waterlogged, saturated or sandy soils. It should
also not be applied to bare ground on slopes with gradients exceeding
30 per cent. Simazine is a triazine chemical which has been implicated
in the contamination of Tasmanian streams. Mr Bone believes some of
the slopes on the former Meade dairy farm on Tomahawk Creek Road area
greater than 30 degrees.
Mr Knott said the Meade farm did not require a planning
permit or environmental management plan overseen by SWW. But the company
applied an internal environmental checklist compliant with Australian
Forestry Standards which ensured the plantation was established in an
environmentally sustainable way. Varying buffer distances were required
under the standards.
Friends of the Earth forest network campaigner Anthony
Amis said simazine was a possible carcinogen, a groundwater contaminant,
developmental and reproductive toxin and suspected endocrine disruptor.
Terbacil is a potential groundwater contaminant and a developmental
or reproductive toxin, he said. "It could remain in the soil for hundreds
of days meaning any flood occurring where the bluegums are established
months after spraying will still have terbacil residues", he said.
Mr Amis said sulfometuron methyl was a potential groundwater
contaminant and could be very residual in cooler climates. Clopyralid
was a potential groundwater contaminated with very high toxicity. If
buffer zones were minimal, then there was a higher risk of sedimentation
of creeks and water pollution from spraying. especially if it was aerial
spraying, Mr Amis said. "If they mix the chemicals together you can
get a synergistic effect making the concoction potentially more toxic.
"Gellibrand is a major plantation hot spot with steep slopes and very
lax environmental guidelines."
Some of the blue gum streamside plantings of concern are
managed by Midway for Macquarie Alternative Assets, a wholly owned subsidiary
of the Macquarie Bank Group.
Blue Gum Plantation Chemical Fears Warrnambool Standard
- On the Land 11/11/04
Midway doing own water testing By
Forestry company Midway is doing its own water quality
testing after spraying blue gum plantation areas with chemicals in the
Gellibrand valley - the catchment for Warrnambool's water, South West
Water chief executive officer Russell Worland said this week.
When asked if the authority was monitoring the water quality
in streams around the new blue gum plantations, he said SWW required
Midway to implement a regime of water sampling after spraying on some
sites and supply results to the authority. But SWW does not monitor
specifically how, when or where the water testing is done.
Midway resource development manager Jim Knott said the
company did not do water testing on every site, but testing done in
one plantation in the area this year had indicated no chemical spillage
into waterways. "We behave in an environmentally responsible way."
Friends of the Earth forestry network plantation campaigner
Anthony Amis said results could be determined by when samples were taken.
The best times were an hour after spraying and after rainfall when run-off
Mr Worland said SWW had upgraded its water conditions
monitoring to quarterly testing and had sampled water in Gellibrand
valley two weeks ago. But results from this testing and from Midway
tests were not available.
Mr Worland was asked if he was confident that the planning
provisions outlined in environmental management and forest practices
plans were adequate to maintain water quality for SWW consumers. He
said the forestry code of practice was designed to protect the health
of waterways beside new forestry developments. But, given the growth
of plantations in the Heytesbury area, SWW is referring the issue of
chemical impact on water quality to the Corangamite Catchment Management
Authority "to be more assured that the elements of the code gives our
customers proper protection".
Mr Worland said the SWW was a referral authority for planning
purposes in the Gellibrand valley and directly involved with formulating
the environmental management plan for plantation companies. The Colac-Otway
Shire was the responsible planning authority. When asked if the Environment
Protection Authority had final responsibility for the quality of the
catchment's water, Mr Worland said SWW would also be seeking clarification
of the EPA's role.
On the Land was referred to the Department of Sustainabilty
and Environment when it asked the Colac-Otway Shire if it was monitoring
water quality and chemical spraying around the plantations. But Colac
Otway Shire general manager, planning and environment, Ron Mildren,
said he had no comment in relation to chemical use issues "indicating
that the matter was beyond the jurisdiction of council".
Mr Amis said the Colac Otway Shire had told him in 2002
that plantation companies were not required to advise either council
or the Department of Natural Resources and Environment when spraying
would occur. State Government farm forestry officers at Colac and CCMA
officials were not available for comment.
An EPA spokesman said the authority had been approached
about chemical spraying in the Otways but had not had an official complaint.
It needed to be informed of specific incidents but did not monitor spraying
activity he said. "EPA's Pollution Watch Line number is 1800 444 004.
As I said on the phone, if people have concerns with pollution related
to an agricultural spraying incident, they should contact us as soon
as they can."
Dead end on blue gum issue 300 at
meeting but not all satisfied by Vanessa Burrow
The Standard, Monday, November 22, 2004 - p3
A seeming dead end has been reached in discussions about
blue gum plantations in the Heytesbury region after a well-attended
public meeting in Simpson.
Organisers of Friday night's meeting, which was attended
by about 300 people, said the gathering achieved its aim to inform the
community about the timber industry in the region.
Some dairy farmers and residents of Corangamite towns,
however, have expressed their dissatisfaction with the meeting's focus.
Incumbent Corangamite Councillor Evan Savage said the
meeting was positive because forestry companies had shown themselves
to be willing to communicate with the Heytesbury community. "I really
don't think the tree companies have done as well as the gas companies
in letting people know what was going on and they needed to do better,"
he said. "I think (people) had their questions answered about trees,
especially from timber companies, which is really what the night was
United Dairyfarmers of Victoria central councillor Nick
Reynard was reserved in his praise for the meeting. "I thought it went
well for some people but I think there's a fair bit of angst in the
community," Mr Renyard said.
Cooriemungle dairy farmer Ross Powell said the meeting
was a credit to the organisers but it did not present any real answers
on the effect of bluegums on the local economy. The arguement that more
plantations were needed to address Australia's trade deficit did not
make sense to him, he said. "The dairy industry exports about $3.5 billion
a year which is credited to the balance of trade and provides employment
to thousands of Victorians," Mr Powell said. "If the timber companies
take over dairying land there's going to be less dairy products produced
and exported ... you're robbing Paul to pay Peter. "The timber industry
(representatives) at the meeting never touched on what they could do
for the community."
Simon Trotter, who employs five people at Timboon Plumbing,
had a similar view about what was achieved on Friday night. "I was a
bit disappointed with the meeting to be honest," he said. "I would have
liked to see more information about the effect on the population base.
"I thought that was let go through to the keeper a bit. "There will
probably be a fair bit of disquiet in the community."
Meeting organiser and dairy farmer Rob Leishman said he
was still concerned for the Heytesbury region and its economic viability
following Friday night's meeting. "The big problem is that the dairy
industry needs another 12 months of better prices before people get
back on track and by that time there could be good dairy country gone,"
he said. "It's up to the Government to look very seriously (at) whether
they want the dairy industry to keep going or not."
Weekly Times 24 Nov 2004 p1 Dairy industry fears
spread of plantations
Tree Alarm by Monica Jackson
The sale of thousands of hectares of prime dairy land
in Victoria's south-west to the plantation industry has alarmed dairy
As farmers continue their exodus from the industry, milk
companies warn that the loss of suppliers could hurt their ability to
meet future world demand.
Farmers are selling up as poor milk prices and rising
costs take their toll. But what has alarmed dairy companies is the exodus
from Victoria's south-west, which is considered the richest dairying
country in Australia.
Dairy farmers, company leaders, timber industry representatives
and local politicians packed a hall at Simpson near Colac last week
to discuss the spread of plantations on prime dairy land.
The meeting was called to address farmer concerns about
the impact of:
*Fewer dairy farms on local businesses, towns and rural
communities, hospitals and schools.
*The effect of widespread use of pesticides and herbicides
by the plantations on streams and waterways.
*Having plantations as neighbours, especially in relation
to weed and pest control and increased fire risk.
*Government taxation concessions granted to plantation
The meeting drew a number of concerned dairy power brokers,
including Bonlac chairman Noel Campbell and managing director Bruce
Donnison, Murray Goulburn chairman Ian MacAulay and Warrnambool Cheese
and Butter managing director John McLean.
Mr McLean told the meeting that dairy companies did not
have the right to tell farmers what to do with their land. "But in the
not too distant future, world demand (for Australian dairy product)
will outstrip what we can provide," he said.
The meeting was organised by Simpson dairy farmer Rob
Leishman, who said he was alarmed at the rate of dairy farm sales to
plantations, especially in the Heytesbury settlement, south of Colac.
Mr McLean told the meeting the region was the dairy industry's
"shining light". While dairy farmers in northern Victoria struggled
with water problems, and Gippsland farmers battled with pressures from
urban sprawl, Victoria's south-west was ideal for further dairy growth,
he said. "We forecast a production increase here of between 7 and 10
per cent and many people made substantial investments in the industry,"
Mr McLean said the industry acknowledged that the past
two years had been tough for farmers. He said the past six months had
brought a major turnaround in demand for dairy products, especially
cheese, from markets such as Japan and China. "We're concerned as an
industry to lose any farmers, from this region particularly," he said.
Mr McLean said the companies were doing everything possible
to improve the situation. He said the heads of Murray Goulburn, Tatura
Milk, Bonlac and Warrnambool Cheese and Butter had met on three occasions
in the past two months to discuss how post-farmgate savings could be
Farmers said they were also concerned about the impact
of plantations on farms.
Resources manager Jim Knott, of plantation company Midway,
said his company used a wide variety of herbicides but each was aimed
at a specific weed and all were heavily regulated.
Mr Knott said the company did not intend using insecticides
or fungicides in the region. "We test stream water. We don't have to
by law, but we do it anyway," he said.
Mr Knott said the company was keen to make and keep assurances
to farmers that the two industries can co-exist. "We desperately want
to be good neighbours and prove ourselves," he said.
Farmers who spoke to The Weekly Times after the meeting
said the real social, economic and environmental impact of the plantations
had not been addressed.
Even meeting organiser Rob Leishman was far from satisfied
with the results of the meeting. "Thank Christ, Henry Bolte (the Premier
who opened up the Heytesbury Settlement in the 1950s for dairying) is
not hanging from the rafters. He wouldn't be too happy with what's happening
here," Mr Leishman said.
Pastures vanishing By Monica
Jackson Weekly Times 24 Nov 2004
An estimated 80,000 ha of land has been transformed into
bluegum plantations in Victoria in the past three years and the timber
industry is hungry for more land.
According to the Department of Sustainability and Environment,
Victoria will have a plantation estate of more than 750,000 ha within
15 years if the current rate of planting continues.
There are 28 forestry investment companies operating in
the state with the blessing - and some would say generous taxation concessions
- of the Federal and State governments.
Both levels of government have endorsed the Plantations
for Australia: the 2020 Vision plan which has a target of trebling the
country's plantations to three million hectares. The scheme aims to
overcome the annual $2 billion trade deficit caused by Australia sourcing
forest products from overseas.
Editorial 24 Nov 2004 The Weekly Times Plantations
can't go unchecked
Timber plantations continue their inexorable march across
the Victorian landscape.
But rather than take up marginal land, timber companies
have been moving into the richest land in Australia - the dairying region
of Victoria's south-west.
It is a sign of the desperate times faced by the dairy
men and women of this state that they can be persuaded to sell up and
leave their community.
Dairy company leaders are saying the large number of dairy
farms being sold to plantations could jeopardise the industry's ability
to fill export contracts. But they cannot guarantee better prices in
the future. And the farmers who are leaving cannot be blamed.
Falling milk prices, two of the dairy industry's toughest
seasons and a rising dollar have caused ongoing pain throughout the
industry. For many farmers, the good money being paid by plantation
companies is their only chance to recoup some money after a lifetime
of struggle and hard work.
It begs the question: if dairy farmers cannot prosper
in the richest dairy region in Australia, where can they?
And what about the farmers who remain? They deserve answers
to pressing questions about the impact of the change in land use.
How will the transition from dairy to timber plantations
affect their local communities, businesses, schools and hospitals? And
is co-existence with the plantations possible?
In an attempt to rectify Australia's trade deficit, governments
of all persuasions have encouraged the expansion of timber plantations.
But what controls do they have over the plantations'
use of pesticides and herbicides?
There is plenty of anecdotal evidence, especially from
Tasmania, about water contamination, concerns about aerial spraying
and lack of accountability from plantation owners.
Victorian farmers need to be assured the same does not
occur here.But the evidence appears to be contrary.
At a packed meeting organised by concerned farmers in
Simpson last week, a plantation official admitted that there was no
law forcing the compant to test for herbicide residue. He said the company
did so anyway.
Comments like this reinforce farmers' view that plantations
are a law unto themselves.
Farmers left the meeting frustrated at the lack of information
The timber industry is adding another stress to an already
struggling community in south-west Victoria. The farmers deserve answers.
Town set for insecticide, Greens
say by Claire Konkes
December 6, 2004. The Mercury p11
Geeveston residents have been told Forestry Tasmania plans
to spray the same insecticide linked to massive oyster deaths on Tasmania's
East Coast, the Greens said yesterday.
Greens environment spokesman Nick McKim said residents
on New Rd were told the insectide Dominex would be aerially sprayed
by Forestry Tasmania in the coming weeks.
He said aerially spraying the pesticide threatened public
drinking water and major aquaculture operations in the Huon area.
Mr McKim said even the State Government's report into
the St Helens oyster kill-off confirmed the oysters were killed by more
than just fresh water after heavy rains. "The Percival Report called
for a full audit of chemical use in Tasmanian water catchments, but
the Government has put the whole issue into the too-hard basket," Mr
The chemical alpha-cypermethrin (marketed as Dominex)
is considered highly toxic to fish. Neighbours next to five forestry
coupes received the notification, but were not given an exact date when
the spraying would start.
Mr McKim said the spraying would occur in the Huon water
catchment, which could affect public drinking water and aquaculture
ventures. "There is no guarantee overspray will not occur," he said.
"The Australian Medical Association has called for a ban
on aerial spraying, which the Greens support, yet Forestry Tasmania
continues to act as a law unto itself and ignore the threat to human
health and vital industry sectors such as aquaculture."
Forestry Tasmania sprays Dominex when leaf-eating beetles
threaten plantation growth. Forestry Tasmania's assistant general manager
of operations Paul Smith confirmed spraying of the insecticide occurred
at this time of year.
He said strict guidelines for spraying minimised any risk
with the operation. "This is a standard practice,"Mr Smith said. Ïf
the weather is not right, we won't spray."
Resident fear at trace of chemical
By ROHAN WADE 14dec 04 Mercury
AT least eight households have stopped drawing drinking
water from a creek after Government tests found it was contaminated
The township of Western Creek, near Deloraine, is reeling
after testing found simazine and atrazine in Tusons Creek, which flows
into Western Creek where residents pump their water.
It is hoping a State Government investigation will uncover
the source of the chemicals, with timber giant Gunns Ltd, Forestry Tasmania
and neighbouring properties all denying any part in the contamination.
Tusons Creek flows past a 110ha Gunns eucalypt plantation
which was started about 18 months ago.
Western Creek resident and Upper Meander Catchment Landcare
Group leader Kevin Knowles said as part of Gunns' good neighbour charter
it had agreed not to use either simazine or atrazine on the plantation.
He said terbacil, which was also found at low levels in the creek,
was used by Gunns when the plantation was being established.
Resident Debbie Lynch said she was not concerned with who was using
the chemicals, only that it was stopped.
Mr Knowles said most of the properties along Western Creek drew water
directly from the creek, with one house having an inlet just 10m from
where the contaminated Tusons Creek entered Western Creek.
He said the State Government needed to investigate the source of the
contamination and ban such chemicals outright.
Testing showed the water contained 0.61 micrograms a litre of simazine
-- above the specified guidelines of 0.5 micrograms, triggering an investigation.
The Primary Industries, Water and Environment Department yesterday
confirmed it would investigate the matter and would conduct more testing.
Gunns brand manager Sarah Dent said Gunns had not used atrazine or
simazine at the plantation.
Last week the small township clashed with Gunns over 1080 baiting at
another plantation, with a 28-signature petition eventually convincing
the $1 billion company to cease its baiting plans.
Simply a non-event 17/12/04 The Age Newspaper
Letters (Letter echoing Gunns claims - contradicting
information in Gunns acts on spray claims article - below))
MEMO to Luke Chamberlain (16/12). The alleged spraying of a Tasmanian
farm with a "potentially harmful carcinogenic herbicide" by Gunns did
not happen, proven by flight lines from the helicopter's records and
the absence of vegetative death on the ground outside the area of the
Atrazine, the herbicide used on surrounding plantations, is not a human
carcinogen and after 40 years of use and extensive scientific studies
has only been shown to be related to a particular cancer in human rats.
The mechanism has been determined and cannot occur in humans.
By far the major use of this chemical is in weed control for canola.
Forestry use is a minor market, but we don't see the same irrational
attacks on agriculture.
Dr Barry Tomkins, department of forestry, University of Melbourne,
Gunns acts on spray claims by Simon Bevilacqua
Sunday Tasmanian 19/12/04
A Tasmanian man has received a threatening letter from forestry giant
Gerard Castles, an international businessman who bases himself in Hobart,
has been asked to retract a public statement he made about Gunns. "If
not, then my client reserves all rights," the letter from Gunns' lawyers
The details emerged in the week Gunns issued a writ against a group
of prominent Greens who had protested against the company's forest practices.
The letter refers to a letter to the editor written by Mr Castles which
said "a contractor working for Gunns sprayed two people with atrazine".
Gunns, however, says the statement is "untrue".
The incident referred to was a feature of a national television story
and at the centre of a media storm.
Wyena residents Howard and Michelle Carpenter said they were sprayed
by a helicopter using herbicides while they were working on their property
near Lilydale, outside Launceston.
The Gunns letter disputes this and says: -A GPS flight recorded showed
the helicopter's spray unit was switched on only while flying over a
nearby logging coupe.
-There were no signs of dead or browned-off grass on the Carpenter's
-Soil tests did not detect the chemical atrazine on the Carpenter's
The Carpenters yesterday provided the Sunday Tasmanian with documents
to show the Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment
did find atrazine in the soil on their property. The analysis was conducted
by Analytical Services Tasmania in Hobart. Mr Carpenter said grass had
died and browned off as a result of the spraying.
"The analysis by DPIWE showed there was atrazine right where we were
standing the day the spraying occurred," he said. Mr Carpenter said
the helicopter was about 100m away when the spray drift came towards
him and his wife. He said they were covered in poison.
Bluegum impact hits home by Glen
Bernoth Warrnambool Standard January 4, 2005.
Acting Premier John Thwaites has conceded there is little
the Government can do to arrest communities' fears that blue gum plantations
will cripple their towns' economies.
Timboon, Simpson and Cobden have all reported slowed economies.
Progress groups, schools and traders blame the proliferation of plantations
in the area.
It is believed more than 40 cash-strapped dairy farmers
have sold their farms to blue gum plantation companies. Many of those
farming families have left the district.
Yesterday Mr Thwaites, the Victorian Environment Minister,
said the Government was aware of the situation but could not step in
and fix it. "You can't step in and stop people from selling properties
on the basis that you want to maintain numbers in a school, for example,"
he said. "The Government just doesn't have the role or power to do that.
"We're certainly prepared to talk to communities, talk to local government,
to see if there are ways to ensure that communities and schools have
a future. "We're a Government that is opening new schools rather than
closing them but you can't step in and prevent farmers from selling
Government can't stop particular farm uses in order to
get a social objective." Mr Thwaites said the Government also had no
means to pressure milk prices up so that families would be more inclined
to stay on farms and in communities.
"Once again, that is private enterprise and the private
enterprise system is not something that Government can direct," he said.
"Hopefully milk prices will rise. "There have been fluctuations over
time and we would hope milk prices will rise and farms will remain viable.
"Farmers have to make the best economic use of their land
and its difficult for Government to step in and tell farmers that they
can't use land for blue gums or other plantations."
He said the blue gum industry had its benefits too. "Plantations
do provide wood that we all use. "Using plantations means there is less
pressure on native forests and we protect native forests.
"Unless people stop using paper and wooden products we
are going to keep needing wood.
"The main issue with plantations is water and we have
to ensure they don't unduly affect the water table or take excessive
amounts of water."
Victorians exposed to pesticides AAP 28jan05
MORE than 45,000 women living in Victoria's north-east could have been
exposed to breast cancer-causing pesticides, new research reveals.
A study conducted by researchers at Melbourne's Monash University found
a possible link between the use of organochlorine pesticides, used mainly
in the production of tobacco crops, and breast cancer.
Monash University PhD student Narges Khanjani said up to 48,000 women
in Victoria's tobacco growing region, the Ovens and Murray Shire, could
have been exposed to organochlorines.
"Because this is the only region in Victoria to grow tobacco, the number
of women possibly exposed is much higher than anywhere else in the state,"
Dr Khanjani said. The study was based on a comparison of 800 samples
of contaminated breast milk collected in the 1990s and breast cancer
It revealed the samples from the Ovens and Murray Shire were the most
highly contaminated and had the highest incidence of breast cancer compared
with any other area in Victoria, Dr Khanjani said. She said women could
have unknowingly eaten food containing the pesticides.
"Although women traditionally don't work in the fields, they have been
exposed to the chemicals which have contaminated the food chain and
have been unknowingly consumed in produce such as meat, milk and eggs,"
Most organochlorines were phased out around a decade ago, but some,
such as Atrazine and Triazine were still used, Dr Khanjani said. "Chemicals
like DDT have a half life of about 10 years so we would expect to see
a reduction in the levels of exposure in the north-east over time and
young people won't have the same degree of exposure to these organochlorines,"
Dr Khanjani said while some overseas studies backed up her finding
that there was a link between the pesticides and breast cancer, others
did not. No research had been done in Australia on the link between
the chemicals and the disease, she said.
Doctors fear chemical link to child disease by
Claire Miller Sunday Age January 30, 2005. p3
A surge in cancer and neurological cases in north-eastern Tasmania
since 2002 is consistent with chronic low-level chemical exposure, says
a report to be submitted to the federal Australian Medical Association
The Tasmanian AMA has charted the rise for the first time and wants
expert opinion from the AMA’s public health committee. The report says
Tasmania has health anomalies including a sudden jump in childhood cancers
and higher-than-average premature births. Its says cases documented
around St Helens, on the east coast, in particular are symptomatic of
possible chemical exposure.
The report says a rise in neurological illnesses, reproductive and
gastrointestinal cancers around St Helens is statistically significant
over and above what might be expected through population increases alone.
The rise coincides with the expansion of timber plantations in the catchment
that supplies the drinking water.
Plantations are sprayed with chemicals during establishment to kill
weeds and grasses. The local Break O’Day Council, helicopter operators,
the Health Department and the Department of Primary Industries, Water
and Environment have identified at least a dozen herbicides in use or
detected around St Helens since 2002. Many are known as possible carcinogens
or hormone disruptors.
Tasmania’s Director of Public Health, Dr Roscoe Taylor, said cancers
and other health conditions around St Helens did not appear to depart
significantly from the rates expected in a population with similar demographics.
The department has sought independent toxicology advice on the neurological
cases and expects a report in a fortnight.
The Tasmanian AMA president, Launceston-based Dr Michael Aizen, said
the Government response in investigating chemical use and testing water
was inadequate, and data available was limited. He wanted more robust,
transparent water testing that correlated with when, where and what
chemicals were applied.
Stan Siejka, northern Tasmania’s only neurologist, said that in the
past year he had treated several patients with unexplained neurological
symptoms and definite exposure to chemical spraying. In a typical case,
a worker showed classic symptoms after a field nearby was sprayed, but
his employer called Dr Siejka to claim the worker had not been exposed.
"I don’t like to see this complete denial where there is a clear possibility
that he could have been exposed," Dr Siejka said. "The frustration is
we have little access to what precisely has been applied in the area,
and it is very difficult to get independent assessments for the concentrations.
A lot of the chemicals are known to have potential side effects."
Chemicals identified in the St Helens catchment included atrazine and
simazine, classified by the World Health Organisation as Type 2B carcinogens,
meaning they are suspected of causing cancer.
Atrazine is readily absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract, according
to a draft review released in October last year by the Australian Pesticides
and Veterinary Medicines Authority.
The review says atrazine, when properly used, is unlikely to pose an
unacceptable risk to human health. However, it also noted the chemical
was moderately toxic to creatures at the bottom of the food chain, including
algae and tiny marine crustaceans. Overall, it said atrazine was slightly
to moderately toxic to humans and other mammals.
Break O’Day Council began monthly water tests for chemical residues
in July last year. The Health Department ordered tests following a community
outcry over the failure to clean up chemical spilt in a helicopter crash
in November 2003.
Two months later, more than 90 per cent of oysters downstream in Georges
Bay died after a flood.
Break O’Day Mayor Stephen Salter said no chemicals had been detected
so far and the water supply was safe. The council is sampling from the
George River just above its entry into Georges Bay, where dilution is
maximised. The St Helens town water intake is several kilometres upstream.
Alison Bleaney, the St Helens general practioner who alerted health
authorities to apparent anomalies in illness rates, said the council
and other agencies were using methods to detect individual chemicals
and bacteria, rather than testing whether the water itself was toxic
and then investigating possible causes.
Chemical Scare River water tests add to disease
concerns by Claire Miller The Sunday Age February 6, 2005. P10
Water from rivers on Tasmania’s north-east coast is toxic to sea urchin
larvae, a species used in European research as a model for pre-cancerous
changes in human cells. Larvae cells dies in surface water samples taken
from rivers with suspected chemical contamination. Oyster larvae cells
also died or failed to develop normally.
Sea urchin cells are recognised as models for cellular development
in all living things. Dysfunctional development is a hallmark for tumour
cells and human cancers, according to French studies cited in a report
prepared for the Australian Medical Association.
Dr Alison Bleaney, a general practioner at St Helens on the state’s
north-east coast, commissioned the tests from Ecotox Services Australasia,
an independent private laboratory in Sydney.
The AMA’s public health committee will consider the results at the
end of the month, along with statistics from the Tasmanian AMA branch
that suggest increased occurrence of neurological illnesses, intestinal
tract tumours and reproductive cancers in northern Tasmania.
The Tasmanian AMA prepared its report following community concerns
that health problems may be linked to chemicals used in forestry. The
rise in illness coincides with the expansion of plantations, which have
more than tripled in areas across northern and eastern Tasmania since
Timber plantations undergo chemical treatment in the first few years
to remove competition from wildlife, plants and insects that might slow
growth rates. Chemicals used include atrazine, a possible human carcinogen,
and alpha-cypermethrin, which is toxic to oysters in trace quantities.
Tasmania’s public health director, Roscoe Taylor, said the tests using
sea urchins and oyster larvae were not relevant to drinking water standards
for humans. “No other regulatory or water authority in Australia has
been in the practice of using these tests,” he said. The method could
concentrate naturally occurring toxins, such as tannin, “so it is very
premature to declare human health risks in relation to man-made toxins”.
He said the tests had been referred to the Department of Primary Industries,
Water and Environment. The department would try to reproduce the sampling
and conduct similar tests at other sites. “It is interesting stuff,
but premature to speculate publicly about the risk to public health,”
Dr Taylor said.
St Helen’s oyster farmers first raised concerns about chemical contamination
after 90 per cent of their oysters died in January last year following
a record flood. The Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment
says fresh water killed the oysters.
A marine ecologist at Sydney Water, Dr Marcus Scammell, investigated
on behalf of the farmers and said fresh water alone could not explain
the death rates. Break O’Day Council has tested water in the George
River, near St Helens, monthly since July last year. The results have
been clear, but Dr Bleaney said the issue was the cumulative risk, not
whether particular chemicals could be detected. She said many studies
indicated chemicals acted in concert in the environment to harm human
Dr Scammell said European researchers used urchin cells as a predictor
for tumour development in humans. He said Tasmanian authorities should
suspend risky activities pending an investigation, and should test water
to isolate what was harming the larvae. “Something is causing mortalities
in oysters that are unnatural, and something is causing a significant
effect on human health since mid-2001, he said. “We would put a halt
to everything until we had worked out what the hell was going on.”
Life’s not what it seems in this neck of the
woods by Claire Miller The Sunday Age p11 February 6, 2005.
Michelle and Howard Carpenter wonder what they have done to deserve
what life has dished up in the last two years. They moved to a remote
valley in northern Tasmania to escape the rat race, and somehow ended
up living next to landowners they call the neighbours from hell.
A month after the Carpenters moved in, the giant timber company Gunns
clearfelled and replanted its plantations, which flanked the Carpenter’s
property on all sides. Mrs Carpenter said she could tolerate the logging
trucks and the noise because she thought it would be temporary, but
then the chemical treatment began.
First there were four rounds of 1080 baits, to poison wildlife and
rabbits, between May 2003 and April 2004. At least 60 wallabies died,
many in the Carpenters’ garden and in the nearby creek supplying drinking
water to homes downstream. Then all the Carpenters were notified of
three rounds of aerial spraying to kill weeds between March and August
2004. Six weeks after the spraying on August 18, the herbicide atrazine
was detected at a level of 0.72 parts per billion in the bore supplying
their drinking water.
Australia’s drinking water guidelines say atrazine is not a health
concern unless it exceeds 40 parts per billion, but state atrazine should
not be detected at all, and action should be taken to stop contamination
if it is present. The US health standard is 2 parts per billion, and
Europe’s is 0.5 parts per billion.
The Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment
has investigated the contamination and sought legal advice from the
Director of Public Prosecutions, but the Carpenters say they are being
left in the dark. Mr Carpenter said the department did not give them
a copy of its report and, as far as they knew, no one had investigated
the atrazine’s source.
“It is bizarre,” said Mrs Carpenter. “I just can’t understand why they
are not being open with us. It is our water, and we have done nothing
to contaminate the water ourselves, but we are being treated as the
suspects. The only thing we have done is live here on our property.”
The WHO classifies atrazine as a type 2B carcinogen, which means it
possibly causes cancer in humans. It is linked to deformities in frogs,
and has been banned in several European countries because of its persistence
Private forestry companies use atrazine and simazine, among a range
of other chemicals, to kill wildlife, plants and insects that might
slow down tree growth rates. Forestry Tasmania also uses chemicals,
but stopped using atrazine in 1995 and its chemical cousin simazine
in 1997, following community outcry about residues detected in drinking
water around St Helens, on the east coast, in 1994. A spokeswoman for
Gunns declined to comment.
A departmental spokesman confirmed a report was submitted to the Director
of Public Prosecutions in mid-December, but refused to comment on its
findings. Michelle and Howard Carpenter said they had their bore water
tested in March 2004, before aerial spraying began, and the water was
clean. The Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment has
tested the Carpenters’ bore water since September last year, and sent
the results to the couple. The tests show atrazine levels declining
over time, but with spikes after rain. The last sample, taken on January
6, was at the limit of detection, at 0.05 parts per billion.
Gunns has also sampled the bore, as well as run-off from its plantations
across the Carpenters’ property. It has refused to give the couple the
results, despite a general policy of providing water test results on
request to adjoining landowners.
It did however, provide a new tank and arranged for fresh water to
be trucked in after the couple were forced to drink and shower in contaminated
water for six weeks. A helicopter spraying chemicals had flown over
their bore, which is on a narrow easement with trees on either side.
“We are lucky we don’t glow in the dark,” Mrs Carpenter said. “We have
really copped it and they have given us no assurances they will not
be spraying again.” But the couple are not planning legal action. “We
do not have the finances to fight people like that – those big companies
have money to burn, so I don’t know if we could even do anything like
that,” Mr Carpenter said.
Chemical impact minimal Letters Sunday Age
I wish to point out a number of incorrect statements made by Claire
Miller in her article “Doctors fear chemical link to child disease”
Firstly, there is an inference that the “dozen herbicides in use or
detected around St Helens” were all from forestry operations. There
may have been a dozen pesticides detected in the shire, but few of these
would have been used in plantation establishment. Only three or four
herbicides have been used in plantation establishment in that area,
and the plantation area comprises only 3.6 per cent of the total catchment.
Secondly, the statement that atrazine and simazine are WHO Type 2B
carcinogens is wrong. They are Type 3, carrying about the same risk
as talcum powder.
As to the helicopter crash in December 2003, a report by the spray
information and referral unit of the Tasmanian Department of Primary
Industries, Water and Environment, stated that “the incident was correctly
identified as being of minor environmental significance”. The nearest
stream was about 200 metres away and the chances of any of that chemical
reaching that far were remote.
A report that purported to link this event with the oyster deaths following
the flood into St Georges Bay at the end of January 2004 has been thoroughly
discredited, yet Miller inferred that there was a link. The influx of
huge amounts of cold, fresh, dirty water from a downpour of 118 millimetres
of rain over a day or two altered the salinity, turbidity, pH and temperature
of the warm saline bay. This obvious cause of oyster deaths is undoubtedly
the correct one.
Dr Barry Tomkins, School of Forestry, University of Melbourne.
No cancer ‘surge’
Claire Miller reports a “surge” in cancer in north-eastern Tasmania
Given its dramatic appearance, readers could be excused for believing
the graph headed “St Helens incidence in particular cancers” demonstrated
a rising incidence of endocrine/reproductive cancers and digestive tract
cancer over the period 1995 to 2005. Not so.
Cumulative incidence is graphed. This means that incidence in the first
year is added to that of the second year to give the accumulated total
to that date, and so on.
In a cumulative graph, a constant annual incidence will thus be depicted
as a steadily rising slope, falsely suggesting an increasing annual
incidence of cancer. The data presented was extremely misleading.
If the same data were plotted as annual incidence there would be no
apparent change over time.
Professor David Hill, Director, The Cancer Council Victoria.
Water Action Call. Tasmania charts more disease
near forest water catchments by Terry Sim On the Land Warrnambool Standard
February 3 2005
Communities with drinking water catchments at risk from chemical sprays
could not rely on authorities to do adequate monitoring and testing,
a Tasmanian doctor said this week.
Tasmanian Australian Medical Association president Dr Michael Aizen
said it has taken community action and "agitation" to get water tested
below commercially-forested catchments in north-east Tasmania.
South-west timber companies and the South West Water Authority at Warrnambool
have failed to make public detailed results of water testing in the
Otway catchment after chemical spraying on blue gum plantations. South
West Water chief executive officer Russell Worland said yesterday the
authority a month ago increased its testing range to include atrazine
and some pesticides. He said test results have fully complied with drinking
water standards and had not necessitated public reports.
Otway water is tested at towns on a daily to monthly basis. But Heytesbury
region landowners, including dairy farmers, remain concerned about the
potential impact on milk and drinking water quality of chemical spray
run-off into streams.
Dr Aizen said this week it had taken independent community action to
water testing implemented in north-east Tasmania. "If you are relying
on organisations to do it you might as well give up," he remarked. "The
community will have to invest in independent testing."
The Break O'Day Council in north east Tasmania is now testing for individual
chemicals downstream of timber plantations at a water intake point,
before a waste treatment plant and at the Georges River mouth, following
a chemical spill from a helicopter crash and an oyster kill later in
Dr Aizen said a Tasmanian AMA report, due out next month, has charted
an apparent rise in cancer, neurological illnesses and premature births
in the St Helens area of north east Tasmania. But the AMA needed to
ascertain if the data was statistically significant before it could
be determined if it was symptomatic of possible chemical exposure or
coincided with the expansion of timber plantations. It was too early
to speculate if there was a link between forestry, water quality and
the cancers in the catchment, but he believed the current water testing
regime in the area was not showing "the whole picture", Dr Aizen said.
"To look at chemicals in isolation is not necessarily the right way
St Helens general practitioner, Dr Alison Bleaney, reported recent
illnesses in north east Tasmania to authorities. She said upper catchment
water testing, especially toxicity tests or ideally 'sentinel oysters'
were needed to monitor water quality in catchments. "Until communities
determine what they wanted in their drinking water and made the water
authorities responsible for it then the current state of affairs would
Heytesbury district landowners want an investigation into the compliance
of forestry companies with regulations on bluegum plantings along permanent
stream buffer zones. They are concerned buffer zones have already been
cultivated and bluegums planted too close to rivers and streams, possibly
on Crown land or in contravention of council permits.
Despite Corangamite Shire last week granting conditional permits for
two plantations in the Otway catchment, Kennedys Creek organic farmer
Andy Favero said he wants an inquiry into plantation planting practices
in the area. He has seen where bluegum companies have planted trees
less than five metres from Kennedys Creek and within two metres from
The plantation on Mahoney's farm bordering Skinners Creek has an environmental
overlay administered by South West Water which precludes cultivation
within eight metres of permanent streams. Mr Favero is also researching
reports that native vegetation has been cleared from river frontages.
Mr Favero and Kennedys Creek potato farmer Andrew Bone are seeking
increased transparent monitoring and auditing of water quality around
bluegum plantations before, during and after chemical spraying in environmental
rural and rural zones.
Crop spraying under review after second contamination
13 February 2005
A statutory government body overseeing the use of chemicals in Tasmania
says it is investigating possible breaches of the codes of practice
for aerial and ground spraying on the east coast.
The Agricultural, Silvicultural and Veterinary Chemicals Council (ASCHEM)
was reconstituted by the State Government last year, after massive oyster
kills at Georges Bay on the east coast. But public confidence was shattered
again last week when the herbicide simazine was detected in Orford's
water supply for the second time in six months.
ASCHEM chairman Kim Evans says an investigation is under way to determine
the source of the contamination and any breaches of the code carry substantial
He says ASCHEM has developed a comprehensive water monitoring system
for 27 river catchments throughout Tasmania and monthly testing started
"Within the coming weeks we'll be in a better position to release the
results of the first batch of testing," he said. "To my knowledge it
looks pretty good, but I'm not in a position to comment on the detail
of those monitoring results at this time."
Meanwhile, Tasmania's doctors are driving a campaign for federal laws
to regulate chemical use in agriculture and forestry.
The Tasmanian branch of the Australian Medical Association (AMA) says
the news of further herbicide contamination supports its calls for precautionary
AMA Tasmanian president Michael Aizen says it is time for uniform laws
and regulations for aerial and ground spraying of chemicals linked to
some cancers in humans.
"There'd be predicability in what we use, how much we use, where we
use it and when we can use it," he said.
"At the moment Commonwealth jurisdiction ends at the point of sale
of these chemicals and the responsibility for application and usage
of these chemicals lies with the states."
Dr Aizen says Tasmanian doctors are lobbying the AMA's federal council
to raise the issue with Commonwealth agencies.
New oyster toxin alarm By ROHAN WADE 16 feb05
A PESTICIDE known to be toxic to oysters has been used in the Georges
River catchment at St Helens near oyster farms already hit by mass shellfish
The revelation that the chemical spinosad was used on a 150ha plantation
in the catchment has oyster growers again fearing for their farms' viability
after millions of oyster deaths last year.
Sold under the name of Success Naturalyte Insect Control, the chemical's
own data safety sheet states that it is toxic to oysters, as well as
bees and a marine alga.
Oyster grower Jim Harris, whose business lost about $500,000 12 months
ago when oysters died after heavy rains, said the situation was "a bloody
Mr Harris said oyster growers themselves alerted the State Government's
chemical registrar to the use of spinosad in the catchment. And he said
it showed chemical use was unregulated.
In an email to St Helens Marine Farmers executive officer Brian Leahy
in January, chemical registrar John Mollison said: "We have had some
previous discussion about the use of the chemical spinosad. I have recently
become aware that one of the forestry companies has recently used [spinosad]
on about 150ha of plantation in the Georges River catchment."
It is understood spinosad was sprayed on the plantation late last year.
Mr Harris said any spinosad entering the bay would have dire consequences
for the oyster farms. "Why a chemical that says on its own data sheet
that it is toxic to oysters could ever be used in a catchment that flows
into a bay where there are oyster leases, it just shows there's no regulation
at all," he said.
Mr Mollison also said he intended to have spinosad added to a list
of chemicals being tested for in Georges River, suggesting no such testing
has been done before.
Mr Leahy said the oyster farms had experienced difficulty in finding
out which chemicals were being sprayed and when, and it was a "minor
breakthrough" that spinosad had been confirmed.
Mr Mollison said yesterday spinosad had only been used in the area
in November and December, and therefore was not associated with oyster
deaths earlier in the year. He said waterways in the catchment were
being monitored for the pesticide -- derived from naturally occurring
bacteria -- and a warning was out about the need to adhere to application
guidelines due to its oyster toxicity.
Oyster deaths in the bay last year prompted calls to ban aerial spraying
in the catchment, but the State Government says testing has found no
AMA concern on water quality by Claire Miller
Sunday Age March 6, 2005
The Australian Medical Association wants industrial and agricultural
activities in water catchments to be indepedently monitored following
a Tasmanian report on health concerns over increasing use of multiple
chemicals on timber plantations.
AMA federal councillor and Tasmanian branch president Michael Aizen
said agricultural, domestic and industrial substances were potentially
toxic through contamination of water supplies, by leaving residues in
animal and human food chains, and through atmospheric pollution.He said
that in each case there was potential for human heamth to be adversely
Dr Aizen said the AMA's public health committee had recommended water
quality be treated as a major national public health issue of the public
health "precautionary principle" adopted.
"A good start would be to minimise the contamination of drinking water
with any chemical of pollutants and limit agricultural and industrial
activities in water catchment areas. Where these activities are permitted
for any reason, then environmental and human health impacts should be
independtly monitored," he said.
However, Dr Aizen claimed there were serious methodological flaws in
the report submitted by a water scientist and a St Helens doctor, and
that it did not demonstrate increased adverse health outcomes in the
Georges River catchment.
The report's authors had access to all medical records in the catchment,
and found apparent increases in some cancers and neurological cases.
Toxicology tests have shown the water is poisonous to several marine
species at cellular level.
St Helens GP Alison Bleaney said water toxicity needed addressing as
a matter of urgency. "I would like to see the immediate implementation
of the precautionary principle," she said.
Sprays a threat to water supply Canberra Times March
The use of forestry herbicides in Canberra's water catchments is a
threat to human health and could contaminate drinking water, a leading
water quality scientist says.
NSW urban water industry management scientist Dr Marcus Scammell said,
"Put simply, it is dumb practice." His concerns follow confirmation
that a cocktail of herbicides - several of which were known to contaminate
groundwater - had been used after the 2003 bushfires to control weeds
and kill native regrowth in pine plantations throughout the lower Cotter
ACT Forests director Tony Bartlett said yesterday no herbicides had
been used on ACT Forests land in recent weeks. But he confirmed that
herbicides, including glyphosate, metsulfuron methyl, clopyralid, hexazinone
and picloram had been sprayed in the catchment to control weeds such
as blackberries. "Any chemicals used are done so under authorisation
from the EPA [Environment Protection Authority]. "There is no ban on
using these chemicals in the catchment or anywhere else in the ACT."
Concern over herbicide use follows recent controversy over the impact
of forestry operations in the lower Cotter catchment. Scientists claim
expert advice on the massive task of ecological repair after the devastating
January 2003 bushfires has been ignored and have described the catchment
as a "basket case".
The ACT Government claims key scientists were consulted and all signed
recommendations to replant pines in the lower Cotter catchment. Dr Scammell
said toxicity tests on the impact of forestry herbicides in Tasmania
showed chemicals were able to move through the water and disperse widely.
"If people are drinking the water, showering in it and cooking with
it, you do not take the slightest risk of any possible contamination
within a catchment. "Melbourne and Sydney's water catchments are 100
per cent protected from any potentially harmful impacts. "People must
have that reassurance that their drinking water is reliable."
He said the lower Cotter catchment's loose fire-affected soils would
make it "easy for the chemicals to move around and enter the water supply".
Opposition environment spokeswoman Vicki Dunne has called for the Government
to test the water in the Cotter River and to reassure Canberra residents
that the newly opened $35 million Mt Stromlo water treatment plant is
delivering clean water.
"There is potential for large amounts of sediment to be washed into
the Cotter Dam and although they may be able to remove particulates,
they can't take the chemicals out." GreensMLA Deb Foskey said several
of the herbicides used within the catchment had been linked to groundwater
and river contamination and loss of aquatic life.
Actew to review its water-test procedures By
Rosslyn Beeby Research, Conservation and Science Reporter Wednesday,
9 March 2005 Canberra Times
ACT water utility Actew has moved to review water testing and catchment
risk-assessment procedures after concerns about the impact of forestry
herbicides on Canberra's water supply.It will now ask ACT Forests for
herbicide spraying schedules and a full list of chemicals used in the
Yesterday, Actew managing director Michael Costello and ACT chief health
officer Dr Paul Dugdale reassured Canberrans their drinking water was
safe and complied with national drinking- water standards. "I think
the people of Canberra can be confident," Mr Costello said. "We have
for many years had, as part of our normal operations, regularly tested
water for a suite of chemicals in accordance with the Australian drinking-
Dr Dugdale said all herbicides and pesticides used by ACT Forests were
registered with national authorities as suitable for use in water catchments.
"The National Drinking Water Guidelines recognise that at some times
and in some places, pesticides need to be used in catchment areas. As
long as the guidelines are adhered to, drinking water will remain safe."
Earlier this week, Sydney urban water management scientist, Dr Marcus
Scammel, told The Canberra Times the use of forestry herbicides in a
water catchment was "dumb practice" and a threat to human health. He
said the lower Cotter's loose, fire-affected soils would make it "easy
for the chemicals to move around and enter the water supply".
But Mr Costello said herbicides and pesticides had not been detected
in tests of Cotter reservoir water conducted in December and May. Tests
were conducted on surface water and at a depth of 3m at the Cotter reservoir's
valve tower. "We have tested for a large suite of chemicals and we have
detected no chemicals in the water."
However, he conceded Actew had no power to impose restrictions on forestry
operations in the water catchment and no formal agreement had been reached
with ACT Forests on joint management of the catchment.
Group monitors quality of water Colac Herald
May 18, 2005 p3
Gellibrand and district residents will monitor water quality in Otways
water catchments to see if aerial pesticide sprays affect the region's
The move follows a meeting at Gellibrand to have aerial spraying banned
in the region.
Otway Environment Council spokeswoman Fiona Nelson said more than 65
Gellibrand residents, including organic farmers and grape growers, attended
"We decided to establish an Otways clean water group to monitor
water quality in the area," Ms Nelson said.
"A letter would also be sent to Environment Minister John Thwaites
to have aerial spraying banned until its proved safe.
"We know water authorities do test for chemicals in the water
catchment areas but not for ones that we are concerned with, which are
the pesticide sprays used in pine and bluegum plantations."
She said residents were angry spraying continued when there was evidence
chemical sprays were linked to cancer.
"None of the environmental and water management groups want to
take responsibility for addressing the problem and it's frustrating,"
Ms Nelson said.
Otways Environment Council and Friends of the Earth are planning a
similar public meeting at Apollo Bay.
A spokesman from timber company Midway Plantations said the company
complied with laws relating to aerial spraying.
Steve Walker said Midway used helicopters for aerial spraying in Otways
sites where the terrain was difficult.
"When we pick up a chemical to use we make sure we comply with
all regulations and that it is registered with the Australian Pesticides
and Veterinary Medicines Authority,: Mr Walker said.
"We believe the chemicals we use are appropriate, we notify neighbours
that we are spraying as a matter of courtesy.
"Midway comply with requirements that are above the national standard
and has certification with International Standards Organisation 1401,"
The Echo (Geelong) May 19 2005 p3 by Cassie Milner
Timber plantation companies use a cocktail of chemicals to combat weeds
and bugs, but residents and environmental groups fear water catchments
are being contaminated by the spraying. Gellibrand residents formed
a clean water group last weekend in response to aerial spraying of pesticides
around their town. Friends of the earth and the Otway Environment Council
are calling for aerial spraying of pesticides over water catchments
to be banned. Story page 3
Aerial pesticide spraying in hinterland
timber plantations has residents worried.
Otways health fears
Gellibrand residents expressed concern at the weekend that aerial spraying
of timber plantations was poisoning the town’s water supply.
About 60 residents attended a public meeting organised by the Otways
Environment Council and Friends of the Earth on Sunday, to discuss whether
the spraying of chemicals over the domestic water catchment should be
banned, and to form a clean water group.
Otway Environment Council spokeswoman Fiona Nelson said plantation
owner Midway was preparing to spray near Stevenson’s Falls. "There is
a vast amount of evidence to say chemicals like Roundup and Simazine
contaminate groundwater," Ms Nelson said. "They adhere to the soil,
and have been linked to various birth defects and cancer."
Ms Nelson said the Otway Environment Council and Friends of the Earth
were calling for a ban on aerial spraying in domestic water supply catchments.
"There are several thousand hectares of pine plantations in the Gellibrand
River catchment which supplies drinking water to over 50,000 people
in the state’s south west. "It is an outrageous proposition that plantation
companies are willing to risk people’s health by aerially spraying chemicals.
We also have concerns about water pollution and potential impacts of
She said the Australian Medical Association was also concerned about
spraying in water catchment areas. The association’s public health committee
has recommended water quality be treated as a major national public
health issue following examination of a Tasmanian report into the effects
of aerial spraying in water catchment areas.
Friends of the Earth spokesman Anthony Amis told the meeting that spraying
of insecticides and herbicides had been a problem for many years. Mr
Amis said as far as he knew, no one in Victoria was monitoring which
chemicals were used, in what quantity and where.
"I am not scare mongering. Our job is to warn people of the risks associated
with chemical risks through spraying." he said.
South West Water chief executive officer Russell Worland told the meeting
the authority took just over half its water from the Gellibrand catchment,
so it had a significant stake in the quality of the water.
Mr Worland said the authority had requested the plantation companies
let them know when spraying would occur so South West Water could do
checks of the rivers and creeks. "The company has agreed to that protocol,"
he said. "We are engaged in dialogue and negotiation with the company,
but in terms of cracking a whip, no we are not able to do a lot."
But Ms Nelson said of the chemicals used by the plantation companies
only one was currently tested for by the authority.
Water Samples taken regularly
Midway Plantations Afforestation Manager Steve Walker said the company
did carry out spraying around Gellibrand.
Mr Walker said the herbicide Simazine was one of the chemicals used
by the company. He said the company was working with South West Water
to ensure the safety of drinking water, and regularly took water samples
Mr Walker said the dairy and farming industries also used chemicals,
which could also find their way into waterways. He said Midway had a
policy of contacting neighbouring properties before spraying, and it
was possible spraying would occur soon. "We do do spraying this time
of year," he said.
Mr Walker said the Tasmanian case where $1.5 million of oysters dies
after a helicopter carrying forestry herbicides crashed had a dramatic
impact on public perception of spraying.
Colac Herald May 25, 2005 p5 Plantation Woes. But
no bluegums on floodway
Farmland at Swan Marsh will make way for bluegum plantations despite
But a Colac Otway Shire Council ruling has excluded the two new plantations
from floodprone land.
The Council has refused permits for Great Southern Managers to plant
two bluegum plantations in flood-prone land, because it would be difficult
to enforce rules to protect water from chemicals the tree company used
But the ruling only stops the company from planting bluegums on parts
of their land which are in a flood overlay – the council has no power
to stop plantations on the rest of the properties.
Planning rules list plantations as an agricultural activity and the
council has no power to stop agricultural activity on normal farmland.
The council can stop plantations on land under a flood inundation overlay.
Cr Brian Crook said timber plantations were vital for Colac and district's
“However when it's as environmentally sensitive as this obviously is
I think we have to be very careful,” he said.
Cr Chris Smith, who lives near the proposed plantations, said there
was a lot of community angst about plantations.
Cr Smith said it would be imposible to stop plantation chemicals from
flowing into Lake Corangamite if the plantation covered a flood zone.
“These chemicals are extremely toxic to water life,” he said.
Mayor Warren Riches said the council was positive about plantations
but “must ensure residual chemicals are contained so they do not impose
a risk to vital food producing land such as dairies”.
“Council acknowledges that the development of timber plantations in
the rural zone do not require a planning permit unless the land is subject
to overlay controls,” he said.
“Council will review the use and development of rural zones as part
of the proposed planning scheme review.”
Great Southern Managers representative Mike Underdown addressed the
council last week.
“We have a great deal of experience in using chemicals,” he said.
“Plantations probably use less chemicals than many agricultural enterprises.”
Mr Underdown said the risk of the chemicals contaminating groundwater
was “quite minimal”.
Swan Marsh residents also addressed councillors about their concerns
with plantation chemicals.
Eileen Craig said she was concerned the company would drive “huge”
log trucks into Swan Marsh and near a school.
Neighbour Trish Mulheron said she was concerned plantations would leave
damaged land after companies harvested the trees.
She said she was also concerned Swan Marsh properties would lose their
value because of neighbouring plantations.
Viola Spokes said she was concerned plantation chemicals could affect
pupils at a nearby school.
“My children go to the school, which is less than 200 metres away,”
Ms Spokes said.
Letter Colac Herald, May 27th 2005 Tree Chemicals pose
Tree Plantations Australia is concerned that suggestions by various
community groups over the use of herbicides may incorrectly raise the
concerns of people living within rural communities.
Plantation companies are not willing to risk people's health, much
less their own staff, through either ground-based or aerial spraying
of herbicides. Many layers of regulation are in place to minimise the
risk to people, drinking water, other agricultural enterprises and the
In general, plantation companies go beyond the requirements of these
regulations to provide further protection for their neighbours and the
community. Demonstrating their willingness to operate beyond regulatory
requirements, most forestry companies have achieved independent certification
against standards such as ISO 1400, Australian Forestry Standard or
the Forest Stewardship Council.
In Victoria, plantation management is controlled through the government's
code of Forest Practice. This code specifies the width of the bufffer
zones that must be left along water courses and rivers. The national
authority governing the use of chemicals, the Agricultural Pesticides
and Veterinary Medicines Authority registers each chemical and specifies
a set of label conditions that are designed to minimise any danger to
people or the environment. The registraion process is intensive and
can often take four years to complete.
If the herbicides are applied by aerial spraying, pilots are required
to meet the Spray Safe standard of industry. This standard ensures that
pilots are well qualified to undertake aerial spraying. To minimise
any potential spray drift, they must complete a thorough risk assessment
and risk management plan, by checking the weather forescast, identifying
potential hazards, and considering the safety of neighbours and the
Plantation companies sample the water for chemicals, both before and
after the application of herbicides, from both upstream and downstream
of the treated areas. this is done shortly after the application has
been completed, and in the period after the first major rainfall event.
where plantation growers perceive there is some additional risk of contamination
from their herbicide use, additional risk management startegies are
employed. These strategies are normally designed in conjunction with
regional water supply authorities and local government.
Concerns have been raised over the potential carcinogenic properties
of Simazine. Simazine is a common herbicide in agriculture and forestry.
According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which
is aligned with the World Health Organisation, there is no evidence
to suggest that Simazine is carcinogenic. It is recognised as a Group
3 carcinogen, meaning it poses no greater threat than chlorinated drinking
water, paracetamol or tea. Herbicides are used safely within water catchmemnts
while plantation managers adhere to goverment regulations for each of
those chemicals. These regulations are designed to ensure that human
and environmental health is not placed at risk.
Phil Townsend, CEO, Tree Plantations Australia.
Colac Herald 1/6/05 Challenge over tree
Phil Townsend’s letter to the Colac Herald, May 27, 2005 “Tree Chemicals
pose no threat” contains a number of inaccuracies that require further
Firstly Mr Townsend’s comments regarding Simazine fail to acknowledge
that according the US based Pesticide Action Network (PAN), the herbicide
is a developmental or reproductive toxin, a suspected Endocrine Disruptor
and a known ground water contaminant. PAN also claim that Simazine
is a possible carcinogen.
So concerned about simazine is the independent certification body,
Forest Stewardship Council, that Simazine has been prohibited under
FSC rules of voluntary forest certification . Under FSC rules companies
using Simazine cannot be certified except under extraordinary circumstances.
Why would an industry wanting to be seen as being clean and green want
to support the aerial spraying of a herbicide that has a such a poor
Mr Townshend’s comments regarding the Code of Forest Practices also
need further clarification. Tree plantations come under the Private
Section of the Code. Responsibility for enforcing the Code on private
land is the local shire. Local Shires are not however responsible for
monitoring of spraying of pesticides.
Just who is responsible for monitoring pesticides if they impact on
waterways or airways? If the plantation companies are monitoring waterways
for pesticides as Mr Townshend suggests, why aren’t the results made
Where and how are the samples taken? Who assesses the results and what
laboratories are involved? Most importantly, have pollution events
occurred and why haven’t these events been made public? Is monitoring
occurring for people living downwind of spraying events?
Many plantations in Victoria were established prior to the Code of
Forest Practice. Some of these plantations are being logged now and
the Code not only allows such logging it also allows for the replanting
of buffer zones with plantation species. Buffers of native vegetation
in many of these plantations is minimal or non-existent. Friends of
the Earth has witnessed the logging of plantations right up to the banks
of rivers and creeks. We have been alarmed to note that plantation
managers mostly replant these areas with plantation trees.
If the plantations are established so close to waterways, what are
the risks of pesticides causing pollution to those waterways, particularly
through aerial spraying?
One of the worst examples we have seen in the Otways is the logging
of plantations within one metre of the Gellibrand river and logging
within a metre of Charleys Creek.
In February 2005, the Charleys Creek operation was deemed to have breached
the Code of Forest Practice by the Colac Otway Shire, however we understand
that plantation trees have been re-established within one metre of the
creek. At the Gellibrand River site, just downstream of Stevensons Falls,
private plantation logging is currently occurring in a Crown Reserve
which extends for 1.5 km’s along the river, within one metre of the
river in places.
Reestablishment of bluegum plantations on ex pine plantation sites
and the current trend of planting out farmland with bluegum plantations
gives more grounds for concern.
Bluegum plantations can be susceptible to insect attack meaning that
spraying of bluegum plantations with insecticides does occur.
The current insecticide favoured by the plantation industry is Alpha-Cypermethrin,
which is toxic to some freshwater invertebrates at 4 parts per trillion.
If this insecticide is used on plantations which have been established
within metres of waterways, it is not inconceivable that the insecticide
will find its way into the waterways, with disastrous impacts, as was
the recent event of a massive oyster kill on the east coast of Tasmania.
It must also be pointed out that a large proportion of tree plantations
in the Otways lie within the Gellibrand River catchment, which is the
water supply source for 50,000 people.
Friends of the Earth would argue that any application of chemical within
this catchment would have to occur under stringent controls. We further
believe that aerial spraying is far too risky a venture to occur within
a domestic water supply catchment.
With the spread of tree plantations into ex farmland and the spraying
of second rotation plantation sites, Friends of the Earth believes that
the practice of aerial spraying of pesticides must be banned.
We believe that the current explosion in bluegums spreading across
the countryside will encroach into areas where pesticide use has previously
been minimal, putting rural lives and livelihoods at risk.
So concerned is the Federal Regulatory body, the Australian Pesticides
and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) that in 2003 the APVMA released
draft technical requirements relating to the management of spray drift
risk for consultation. The consultation is still occurring two years
Anthony Amis – Friends of the Earth Melbourne
Farmer questions water testing confidentiality
April 10, 2005 http://www.abc.net.au/news/australia/tas/northtas/200504/s1342116.htm
A farmer from Lorinna in northern Tasmania says the State Government's
water testing service returned her cheque when she complained about
a breach of privacy.
Geraldine de Burgh-Day requested, and was assured of, confidentiality
when she had water samples tested at Analytical Services Tasmania in
The State Government has been adamant that the service is completely
independent and beyond question.
Mrs de Burgh-Day says she was astonished when officers from the Department
of Primary Industries, Water, and Environment (DPIWE) arrived unannounced
to test her water, saying they knew she was having water samples tested.
"These people were from DPIWE, they were nothing to do with Analytical
Laboratories and how would they know that I'd had samples tested, but
even more importantly how would they know that I've spent a lot of money
on it?" she said.
"I mean goodness gracious, not only the fact that I'd had it tested
was clearly information around the traps, but what it had cost me and
Mrs de Burgh-Day says when she complained about the breach of privacy,
her cheque to pay for the testing was returned with a note from DPIWE
saying the invoice had been cancelled.
"A total admission that there is no confidentiality at all, I kept
the cheque, I was absolutely astonished," she said. "I've been in business
for many, many years and to do that to return a cheque is a total admission
that there is a real problem, and I believe there is a real problem."
The manager of Analytical Services Tasmania, Mike Johnson, says he
told a Government staff member about Mrs de Burgh-Day's water testing,
but says no results were revealed. He says the incident highlighted
the need for confidentiality to be maintained and better procedures
have been put in place.
Orford water murky again The
Mercury June 18
HERBICIDE simazine has again been detected in the Prosser
River, which provides Orford's water supply.
The herbicide was found at a concentration of 0.09 micrograms
a litre (mg/L) in the second round of monitoring of Tasmanian waterways
Samples from 28 Tasmanian rivers and streams were taken
in April and May and sent to Analytical Services Tasmania's laboratory
for screening for pesticides. All other sites were free of the pesticides
Primary Industries and Water Minister Steve Kons said
while the low level of contamination was barely above detection level,
it remained contamination and was unacceptable.
A sample taken from the Prosser River on January 18 found
simazine, which was once linked to cancer, at more than double the level
(2.5 mg/L) found in a sample taken on July 28 last year (0.0012 mg/L).
The Australian Drinking Water Guideline maximum is 0.5
mg/L. Director of Public Health Roscoe Taylor said latest level detected
in the Prosser did not pose any risk to public health.
MILK PROBE By JULIE McNAMARA June
21, 2005 Warrnambool Standard
FOOD safety authorities have initiated an investigation into whether
milk produced on a Simpson dairy farm has traces of blue gum aerial
The Department of Primary Industries (DPI) is carrying out the investigation
following fears that pasture on the farm - which supplies Warrnambool
Cheese and Butter Factory - was contaminated and transferred to cows'
Dairy Food Safety Victoria (DFSV) chief executive officer Anne Astin
confirmed yesterday that the independent regulator was aware of an incident
and an investigation was under way into whether drift of aerial spray
registered for use on blue gum trees had affected farm land.
Dr Astin said that as a precaution, none of the product made from the
milk was being put on the market. She said laboratories were testing
for the chemical simazine as well as its breakdown products, known as
Dr Astin said the DFSV was first notified early this month and the
results were expected to be revealed in the next four weeks.
DPI chemical standards branch manager Geoff Bennett said damage by
spray drift came under the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemical (control
of use) Act 1992 and breach of legislation carried possible fines of
$40,000 for a company and $20,000 for an individual. Mr Bennett said
contamination would only apply if chemical residues above the set standard
The Simpson dairy farmer involved didn't wish to comment.
Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory chief executive officer John
McLean said he had no concerns about the milk but as a precaution, the
skim milk powder being produced from it would be kept in isolation until
the DPI investigation was complete.
"The farmer advised us there had been an overspray and we immediately
checked the milk coming off that particular farm and we've got no problem
with that," Mr McLean said.
"We just made doubly sure everything was perfectly safe and we can't
"We never take any risks but at this stage there doesn't seem to be
A number of farmers throughout the Corangamite district have expressed
concern over the past 12 months that spraying on blue gum plantations
could pose a threat to waterways and other agriculture.
The farm in question backs on to a gully which runs into Kennedys Creek
but South West Water Authority chief executive Russell Worland said
it flowed into the Gellibrand River 200m downstream from its water collection
Mr Worland said the authority had stepped up its water quality testing
program in response to concerns about possible contamination from spraying
of softwood and blue gum plantations. He said the authority tested for
simazine and other chemicals and there was no evidence of any contamination.
The authority had initiated a public meeting, to be held in Colac on
July 18, he said. The meeting would also be attended the DPI, Department
of Human Services, water authorities and Corangamite and Colac-Otway
Shire representatives. Issues to be discussed include possible sources
of contamination in the Gellibrand Valley.
Queuing to meet Thwaites By
PETER COLLINS June 23, 2005 Warrnambool Standard
ENVIRONMENT and Water Minister John Thwaites will be tackled by south-west
residents worried about blue gum plantation chemical spray drift on
This week several submissions were lodged, seeking appointments with
the minister during a regional visit by the State Government's community
cabinet in late July.
Panmure farmer and environmentalist Gillian Blair and Simpson district
farmer Andrew Bone lodged their submissions by the Tuesday deadline
and it is understood Colac-Otway Shire Council has also sought a meeting
with Mr Thwaites on the issue.
Earlier this week, the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) said
it was investigating if milk produced on a Simpson dairy farm had traces
of the simazine and its breakdown products, following claims that aerial
spraying of a plantation had drifted onto the farm. Results are expected
to be revealed in the next four weeks.
Skim milk produced from the farm's supply is being held in isolation
at Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory until the tests are completed.
Previous concerns have been expressed by Corangamite district farmers,
worried that aerial spraying will contaminate their farms and waterways.
Ms Blair said yesterday she had sent three submissions on rural environmental
issues which she hopes to put to the community cabinet. "We need to
stop spraying all together and have sustainable plantations," Ms Blair
said. "This issue will not go away."
"I will be representing Friends of the Earth, the Western Environment
Group and the South Western Environmental Action Group as well as the
Clean Water Group recently set up at Gellibrand."
Mr Bone said the issue needed to be tackled urgently. "If milk can
be contaminated, the chemicals could get into beef and harm our exports.
We need to protect our clean and green image overseas. I'm not against
blue gum plantations, but it's how they use the land that's worrying
us. "There needs to be stricter and more enforceable controls on forestry.
The chemicals they use affect water quality." \
Mr Bone is keen to gather other concerned farmers in his district to
form a lobby group, similar to the group recently formed in Gellibrand.
Ms Blair has also requested a meeting with Agriculture Minister Bob
Cameron on geneticically modified crops as well as labelling and export
/BA report commissioned by the Private Forestry Council Victoria was
released yesterday showing environmental benefits arising from plantation
forestry in particular to greenhouse gases and water quality. The review
also compares plantation forestry with other more traditional forms
of extensive agriculture - grazing and annual cropping.
This story was found at: http://the.standard.net.au/articles/2005/06/23/1119321825286.html
Blue gum dairy alarm - The Weekly
Times, July 20, 2005 By Megan McNaught
Dairy farmers in south-west Victoria are calling for an environmental
study to look at the effects of blue gum plantations on their industry.
The request follows recent research, which the farmers claim raises
doubts about the safety of combining the two industries in one area.
Dean Logan, chief executive officer of environmental consulting company
Eco Science Australia, which conducted the research, said he had "grave
concerns", about the possible effects of aerial spraying on water supplies
and on the dairy industry.
"They are spraying tonnes of chemicals in water catchment areas," he
said. "Most water supplies tested around plantations contain some level
of toxicity. "A comprehensive study is needed to fully investigate the
effects."His preliminary research was funded by $90,000 from the oyster
About 60 dairy farms around Heytesbury have been sold for use by blue
gum plantations over the past three years.
Simpson dairy farmer and Australian Milk Producers Association president
Alex McKenzie said the future of one of Australia's prime dairying regions
was at risk.
Mr McKenzie said AMPA and other local farmers feared aerial spraying
on the plantations could affect nearby dairy farms. "When it rains,
these chemicals are washed straight down onto our properties," he said.
"The dairy industry relies on its clean green image, both here and
A recent case of overspraying that saw a large section of a dairy farm
affected highlighted dairy farmers' concerns, he said.
Mr McKenzie said the plantations were already affecting the community.
"We are gradually seeing our community shrink, as dairying families
disappear," he said. "Our schools and community groups are suffering,
and so are the local grain and machinery stores."
He said dairy farmers who were selling out to the trees were benefitting.
But it was getting increasingly hard for younger farmers to buy into
the industry. "Every time a farm is sold to trees, it gets harder for
our young farmers to get in," he said. "This is the prime dairying region
in the country and our farms are disappearing before our eyes."
Mr McKenzie said the issue was creating a division in the community.
"There is a real stigma associated with selling to trees."
Great Southern Plantations is one of several timber companies in the
Public relations manager David Ikin said all properties were bought
on the open market. "We don't force anyone to sell to us," Mr Ikin said.
"We consult will all of our neighbours throughout the process and make
sure they are fully aware of what is going on."
He said all aerial spraying was done under strict conditions. Farmers
in the area were informed whenever spraying was going to take place.
"These herbicides that we use are also used on vegetables, so they are
very safe," he said. "We probably follow conditions more strictly than
most people in agriculture."
Mr Ikin said the company worked hard to be part of the community, supporting
local sporting and community groups. "We understand that it is a change
in land use and the land is owned by a company instead of a family,"
he said. "But we do everything we can to be responsible neighbours."
Great Southern Plantations exports all of its trees to Japan, where
they are used to produce paper.
Families getting sick by Cassie Milner Echo
News Paper Colac Thursday, July 14, 2005 p4
Gellibrand resident Helen Brettagh believes aerial spraying was to
blame for her family suffering a bout of diarrhoea.
Mrs Brettagh, who lives adjacent to a timber plantation, is concerned
spray drift from the chemical spaying is making residents sick. “My
personal experience is that we all got diarrhoea after spraying including
the cat who couldn’t make it to the litter box,” she said.
She also said that she was aware of four other families who had similar
gastric complaints after a recent round of spraying. Ms Brettagh wants
to hear from anyone in the region who believes the spray drift or contaminated
water is making them ill.
“I think it is very important to identify those people who are. I want
to start health mapping so we can see if people who are not sick before
spraying are afterwards, ”she said. “I’m not against plantation timber,
I’m just against getting sprayed with chemicals.”
No Tests Despite Spray Concerns by Cassie
Milner Echo News Paper Colac Thursday, July 14, 2005 p4
Otway Environment Council and Gellibrand residents have slammed a Barwon
Water decision not to test drinking water for timber plantation chemicals.
Representatives from Otway Environment Council, Friends of the Earth
and Gellibrand Clean Water Group met with the water authority last week
to ask if it would test water supplies for chemicals used in aerial
Otway Environment Council spokeswoman Fiona Nelson said the representatives
were shocked to learn the authority did not consider the spraying of
chemicals in the water catchment a public health risk.
“The risk assessment is not available to the public so we are unsure
how this was determined,” Ms Nelson said.
She said it was surprising that Barwon Water would not test the Lardner
Creek catchment given its counterpart South West Water Authority was
testing water it supplied to Cobden, Simpson, Terang and Warrnambool.
South West Water Authority recently took samples from near Stevensons
Falls where aerial spraying had taken place, and will monitor levels
of Simazine – a possible carcinogen – and Glyphosate in the water.
“Unfortunately Barwon Water have not been as responsive to their customers
and have chosen not to test.”
Gellibrand resident Val Warner said residents were outraged their drinking
water would not be tested for chemicals after spraying had occurred.
“There is also the problem of exposure to spray drift. There are organic
growers in the area and many people have rainwater tanks.” Ms Warner
“How can we be certain that we are not being poisoned either through
our drinking water, from chemical residues on the food we grow at home
or from the air we breathe.”
Barwon Water systems executive manager Carl Bicknell said he was absolutely
confident the water supplied to residents in Gellibrand was safe to
Mr Bicknell said community groups were erroneously trying to link their
arguments against chemical spraying of plantation timber to concerns
about water harvesting.
“Barwon Water has no role in this debate because downstream from open
catchments, water is treated and tested to the highest standards in
the world with accordance with our responsibilities to our customers.”
Ms Nelson welcomed a South West Water Authority initiative to form
a water quality coalition which will meet on Monday.
Fury over water poison MICHELLE PAINE March 22,
2007 The Mercury
POISON detected in St Helens' drinking water has angered a local doctor,
who has asked why residents were not told earlier.
Herbicides MCPA, atrazine and the restricted 2,4-D have been found
in three Tasmanian rivers by government testing. Investigations have
begun but authorities said finding the source was unlikely.
Agricultural chemicals MCPA and 2,4-D were found in the George River,
near where suspicion was raised three years ago after a mass St Helens
Chemicals were also detected in the North-West Duck and Inglis rivers
by tests which began two years ago after concern first triggered by
the shellfish deaths.
"How can this happen? MCPA was found consistently on February 10 to
13 and still found at the end of testing," said St Helens GP Alison
"Why is the community put at such risk from this danger, which has
been highlighted so many times before?
"There is no health value for this chemical in drinking water guidelines
because guidelines have determined it should not be in drinking water,"
Dr Bleaney said.
She said chemicals applied in water catchments must have routine water
testing afterwards. Dr Bleaney said she was angry that the Government
press release was not accurate.
It said the MCPA detection was "transient", yet it was picked up in
10 tests on consecutive days.
Tasmanian Government registrar of chemical products Ian Parr said it
was the first time the chemical had been found in the George River.
Mr Parr said investigations were being done.
Contamination of the George River Alison Bleaney
March 2007 http://tasmaniantimes.com/index.php/weblog/comments/ble/
IT is disheartening to learn that after all the issues relating to
chemical use in the water catchments over the past three years, the
public now find out through an inaccurate media release from the Tasmanian
Government that toxic chemicals were in the water of the George River
at the water intake for St Helens.
Methyl chloro phenoxy acetic acid (MCPA) a herbicide for the control
of broad leaf weeds was found in the George River consistently over
three days (10 – 13 Feb 2007) and was still found at the end of testing.
MPCA has no Guideline Value (GV) or Health Value (HV) as the Australian
Drinking Water Guidelines have determined that it should not be in drinking
In addition to MCPA, on 10 and 11 Feb dichloro phenoxy acetic acid
(2,4-D) another broad leaf herbicide was also found in the George River.
2,4-D is allowed to be used in Tasmania at this time of year only under
Detections were above the GV for 2,4-D and since 13 February 2007 there
has been no public information regarding pesticides in the George River,
and no investigations as to the cause of the pesticide contamination,
or indeed for how long the contamination lasted. In fact no pesticide
results have been made publicly available since the last positive result
on 13 February 2007.
The Break O’day Council (BODC), the water body for St Helens, was apparently
not aware of the above results before the news release on Tuesday 20
March 2007. How can this situation arise?
How can chemicals be applied to water catchments with no routine water
testing after their application?
How can the responsible water body not be in charge of their own water
catchment with regard to chemical use, risk assessment, and water quality
Why is the community put at such risk from this dangerous situation,
which has been highlighted so many times in the past?
The community has a right to safe and clean drinking water free from
pesticides. The Tasmanian Government and the local water body (BODC)
must do better than this.
The community at least deserves a responsible and accountable approach
to drinking water management. Alison Bleaney is an East Coast doctor
News of more rivers contaminated. This time in the North West
In yesterday’s Mercury (21st March 2007): “Traces of the herbicide
MCPA at a level of 0.27 parts per billion and atrazine at 0.05 ppb were
found in the Duck River near Smithton. In the Inglis River near Wynyard
traces of the herbicide Hexazinone were measured at 0.06 ppb.”
In the Advocate it is reported that the Chemicals Registrar (Ian Parr)
was “unsure whether farmers or foresters were spraying too close to
the water systems.”
Councillor Hine from Circular Head said “many farmers were currently
spraying against various weeds...Farmers just need to be a bit careful
with that sort of thing.”
However, the contamination of our rivers, creeks and rainwater tanks
is a GUARANTEED result of normal (and legal) practice in this State.
All pesticides are dangerous and it is my understanding that it is
a violation of federal law to claim that they are safe as Minister Llewellyn
is claiming in yesterday’s Advocate.
i. Australian Drinking Water Guidelines “Drinking water should be safe
to use and aesthetically pleasing. Ideally, it should be clear, colourless,
and well aerated, with no unpalatable taste or odour, and it should
contain no suspended matter, harmful chemical substances or pathogenic
ii. State Policy on Water Quality Management 1997 Clause 24 of the
State Policy on Water Quality Management 1997 which provides that a
person responsible for activities with the potential to contaminate
groundwater must take appropriate safeguards to minimise the risk of
contamination. Regulatory authorities (such as councils) should use
their powers to require compliance with this objective Action is required
to PREVENT future Contamination. Yet the state government has done nothing
but legally perpetuate practices known to ENSURE continued contamination.
Posted by Brenda Rosser on 22/03/07 at 03:26 PM
Herbicide link to cancer, sex defects Matthew
Denholm The Australian June 22, 2007
AUSTRALIANS are being exposed to dangerous levels of a common herbicide
linked to cancers and reproductive defects, a US scientist has warned.
Tyrone Hayes, professor of integrative biology at the University of
California, will meet Australia's pesticide regulator and government
scientists today to urge a ban on atrazine. The herbicide is widely
used in Australia on crops including corn, sugar cane and canola, as
well as forestry plantations.
The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority is reviewing
the use of atrazine. The National Health and Medical Research Council
yesterday said it planned to review guidelines on safe levels of the
herbicide in drinking water.
Professor Hayes said he would urge regulators to follow the EU in banning
atrazine and its sister herbicide simazine. And he would present the
findings of his research showing atrazine caused defects in the sexual
development of frogs.
"We have shown that atrazine is a potent endocrine disrupter that causes
a hormone imbalance that leads to a decrease in testosterone and an
increase in oestrogen in exposed males (frogs)," he said.
"The net result of that is that these males develop as hermaphrodites.
Based on lab rat models, as well as epidemiological studies in humans,
this same mechanism leads to prostate cancer and breast cancer and decreased
fertility in humans."
Professor Hayes is touring Australia and will be joined by Tasmanian
GP Alison Bleaney, who says cancers and other serious illnesses are
partly attributable to atrazine run-off from forests into waterways.
He said Australian regulations deemed atrazine safe in drinking water
at a rate of 40 parts per billion, compared with the US standard of
3ppb. "That compares to 0.1ppb that causes the problems I've described
in amphibians," he said.
In July last year, three Tasmanian rivers were found with levels of
atrazine and simazine at 0.13 to 0.18ppb. Professor Hayes said Australians
would be developing cancers and other medical conditions because of
exposure to atrazine in drinking water.
An APVMA spokesman said Professor Hayes's research was not supported
by US Environment Protection Agency studies. However, the APVMA organised
a forum in Canberra today to allow Professor Hayes to express his views.
The Sunday Examiner, June 24, 2007 (Launceston) p4.
Water is 'dangerous' Professor calls
for ban on chemicals
A visiting US professor has condemned Tasmanian drinking water, saying
chemical contamination potentially made it dangerous.Professor Tyrone
Hayes spoke at a community forum on water quality at Riverside last
The forum attracted about 200 people and was sponsored by community
groups including Tasmanians Against The Pulp Mill.
Prof. Hayes is the professor of intergrative biology at the University
of California (Berkeley) and has researched the effects of Atrazine
and Simazine. The chemicals are used in agriculture and forestry.
He said before the forum yesterday that the chemicals had been banned
in the European Union despite being invented by a Swiss chemical company.
"They are ubiquitos, they cannot be used in a way that they do not
contaminate ground water, surface water and drinking water," he said.
"They are the most dangerous chemicals I have studied, based on their
potency and prevalence in the environment."
He said that Atrazine caused chemical castration in laboratory animals
400 times below the levels allowed in Australian drinking water guidelines,
which meant he would not drink local tap water.He said the chemicals
should be banned.
Another forum speaker was St Helens doctor Alison Bleaney. She said
environmental and human health were closely connected. Dr Bleaney said
chemical contamination had been detected in drinking water catchments,
including Launceston and the East Coast.
She said some of the health problems she saw could be related to chemicals
in drinking water. She said these chemicals could cause hormone imbalances,
leading to infertility and thyroid problems. They could also cause immunity
problems, such as auto-immune diseases (rheumatoid arthritis and lupus)
and reduce the body's capacity to fight infections.
Director of public health Roscoe Taylor later responded to the comments,
saying he supported restrictions on chemical use but Tasmanian drinking
water was safe.
Dr Taylor said Simazine had only been found once in the State's drinking
water at Orford, and at very low levels. "If they are used, they should
be used very carefully," Dr Taylor said.
He said broadacre application of these chemicals should not happen
in water catchments.
Department of Primary Industries and Water product integrity and biosecurity
general manager Alex Schaap said Prof Hayes was consulting with the
Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority plus speaking
at public meetings.
"The rulings of the APVMA on chemicals and their application requirements
are valid in the Tasmanian jurisdiction" he said. "As such, we are very
pleased to see robust debate among scientists on the authorisation and
usage of rural chemicals."
Forestry Tasmania spokesman Ken Jeffreys said the business had not
used Atrazine since 1994 and did not use any chemicals on native forest,
although some were used on plantations.
WA Times Historic trees fall victim to spray
program 16th June 2007,
A weed-spraying operation has backfired, killing historic trees around
Perth and causing the death or decline of others in at least 74 locations,
including some on private property.
The City of Stirling’s report into the incident said the council normally
used Roundup every six months to control weeds in sumps. But a decision
was taken in 2004 to spray once a year with a longer-lasting herbicide,
partly because sumps in the neighbouring City of Joondalup presented
well and were sprayed annually.
But problems occurred six months after Stirling’s herbicide was changed
to the chemical hexazinone in May last year. “City officers and residents
started noticing deterioration in the condition of established trees
and shrubs in and adjoining the sumps,” the report said.
And the city’s contractor, Turfmaster, warned that Joondalup was experiencing
a significant stressing and loss of established vegetation next to its
Stirling’s tree expert advised the effect was probably due to hexazinone,
compounded by drought and a dropping watertable.
Stirling’s investigation found that trees and vegetation in sumps sprayed
with hexazinone were dead or in severe decline. “Though replacement
planting could be undertaken using native vegetation, a number of the
dead and declining trees were of a significant age class that categorised
them as historic,” the report said.
In all 136 sumps had been sprayed, 74 of which required tree lopping
or removal of dead vegetation, including dead or dying material in private
properties adjoining 10 of the sumps. The report recommended that herbicides
such as hexazinone should not be used in sumps.
It said the council should negotiate with the spray contractor to recover
the cost for removing and replacing trees.
Turfmaster director Kim Evans declined to comment. The Health Department
said Water Corporation tests indicated hexazinone was not in groundwater
drinking bores in Stirling and Joondalup.
The Department of Environment and Conservation is still examining whether
the chemical entered groundwater supplies. TORRANCE MENDEZ
Water for review as frogs shift sex Carmel Egan
July 15, 2007
AUSTRALIAN drinking water standards are under scrutiny after scientific
research linking commonly used herbicides to gender bending in male
The National Health and Medical Research Council is to reassess its
drinking water guidelines after minuscule traces of the herbicides atrazine
and simazine were found to turn the frogs into hermaphrodites — creatures
with male and female sex organs.
Australian guidelines allow up to 40 parts per billion (ppb) of atrazine
in drinking water before it is considered a health risk. But scientific
studies have found that male frogs grow ovaries when exposed to the
chemical at the minuscule level of .1ppb in water.
"The current Australian Drinking Water Guidelines specify that atrazine
should not be detected in drinking water and that if it is detected,
then remedial action should be taken to stop contamination," NHMRC spokesman
Nigel Harding said.
"The guidelines state that if present in drinking water, atrazine would
not be a health concern in humans unless the concentration exceeds 40ppb.
"The guidelines are currently under review."
Atrazine, which was banned across the European Union in 2003, has been
used for weed control in Australia for more than 25 years and is the
nation's second most commonly used agricultural pesticide, being sprayed
around canola fields, forestry plantations and sugar cane crops.
There is no legal requirement for atrazine users to notify water authorities
when the chemical is being sprayed. No traces have been found in Melbourne's
drinking water since testing began in 2005, but Melbourne Water acknowledges
it probably is used in the city's unprotected water catchments.
But while Melbourne Water tests twice yearly for atrazine to a level
of .5ppb, it does not test for its close chemical relative simazine,
which is used on Yarra Valley vineyards.
The Yarra Valley is part of the catchment zone for the Sugarloaf reservoir,
which supplies drinking water to the northern and western suburbs. "Melbourne
Water understands that simazine is used infrequently in the Yarra Valley,
and because of this infrequency of use and its degradation in the environment,
testing is not conducted, consistent with our risk assessments," a Melbourne
Water spokesman said.
At .5ppb, its atrazine tests are still five times higher than the level
required to turn male frogs into hermaphrodites, according to US scientist
Dr Tyrone Hayes, an associate professor of integrative biology at the
University of California.
"What struck us as unbelievable was that atrazine could cause such
dramatic effects at such low levels," said Dr Hayes, an associate professor
of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley, who
led the frog study.
"If you take five grains of salt, divide this weight by 5000, that
is the amount of atrazine that causes these abnormalities."
Environmentalists say Melbourne Water's tests do not go far enough.
"They now test for atrazine twice a year at each of their testing locations,
that's two readings per year or one reading every 182 days," said Anthony
Amis of Friends of the Earth, which partly sponsored a visit to Australia
by Dr Hayes. "Their results only go as low as .5ppb, which means they
probably won't detect atrazine at the level required."
Herbicide leak in water feared Matthew Denholm
October 03, 2007 (The Australian)
A TASMANIAN farmer is demanding compensation, believed to be at least
$150,000, after herbicides sprayed on a Gunns forest plantation site
apparently washed on to adjoining pasture.
The state Government is investigating whether any of the herbicides,
including one chemical linked to crop contamination in the US, has contaminated
Local residents and community groups last night called for independent
tests to be conducted to show whether drinking water had been polluted.
The concerns centre on a cattle grazing property at Dairy Plains, Western
Creek, in the state's rural north. Residents' groups say heavy rains
in August washed herbicides applied to a Gunns plantation site in late
June on to land owned by farmer Michael Terry.
Mr Terry is understood to have lost pasture. Samples have been taken
from a large dam on the property that is feared to have been contaminated.
Local community groups - Western Rivers Preservation Trust and the
Meander Valley Action Group - said they feared the Western Creek, Meander
River and South Esk River had been contaminated.
Rod Hutchins, of the Meander Valley Action Group, said these waterways
provided water for towns such as Deloraine and Westbury, and the West
Tamar, as well as emergency supplies for Launceston.
Mr Terry would not comment yesterday, but confirmed to The Australian
that he was negotiating a settlement with Gunns. "I'm in negotiation
with Gunns at the moment and don't want to comment," Mr Terry said.
It is understood he agists dairy and beef cattle on his land.
Gunns was also tight-lipped. "Gunns is continuing to comply with all
relevant regulations," a spokesman said.
The state Department of Primary Industry and Water confirmed it was
investigating possible contamination. "The DPIW spray unit is investigating
whether there has been any contamination of a waterway in the Western
Creek area," spokesman Simon de Salis said.
Mr Hutchins said it was one of about eight examples of herbicide spray
from forestry plantations affecting neighbouring properties in the state's
north and east in the past six months.
He believed two herbicides had been sprayed on the Western Plains plantation
land by Gunns: Oust and Glyphosate. "There is meant to be a buffer zone
but they sprayed right up to the fence and the wash-off after heavy
rains went as far as 1.5km into the adjoining property and into a dam
used for irrigation," Mr Hutchins said.
While Mr Terry would not comment on the negotiations with Gunns, Mr
Hutchins said he was aware that company director, and former Liberal
premier, Robin Gray was among Gunns' representatives talking to the
Neil Graham, president of the Western Rivers Preservation Trust, questioned
Gunns' environmental credentials. "How can Gunns hope to establish a
pulp mill with environmental guidelines when they can't even adhere
to guidelines in respect to establishing simple plantations?" he said.
The incident has inflamed local opposition to forest plantations, which
have expanded rapidly in recent years, fuelled by tax-friendly investment
schemes, taking over farmland. "They are destroying our way of life,"
Mr Hutchins said.
"Farmers get offers for their land that are too good to refuse and
with them goes their families, and with them the services and community.
There is also concern about whether the use of these chemicals is linked
to the higher incidence of certain cancers in the north of Tasmania."
More chemicals in Tasmanian waterways Oct 17,
2007 4:25pm ABC Radio
Traces of herbicide have been found in creeks south of Deloraine, in
Tasmania's north. Chemical herbicides have been found intermittently,
in various Tasmania rivers and creeks for more than a year, including
the Duck River, George River and Inglis River.
Now, small traces of MCPA and simazine have shown up in Western Creek
and Brumbys Creek. Again, the Primary Industries Department says the
levels are well below what experts consider a public health risk. But
it will investigate the source, and three months ago, said it would
meet farmers to teach them safer spraying practices.
Christian Goninon, from the Chemical Management Branch, says there've
also been small, but consistent levels of simazine in the Macquarie
River for three months. He says it appears to be coming from a forestry
coupe near Lake Leake.
Atrazine labelling changes overdue Greg Roberts
The Australian January 29, 2008
LABELLING changes recommended four years ago for the controversial
herbicide atrazine have not been implemented bythe federal government
body responsible for regulating chemicals.
According to overseas studies, atrazine, one of Australia's most widely
used agricultural chemicals, has been linked to human cancers and environmental
damage and is banned from general use in Europe.
The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority concluded
in a 2004 report that existing label instructions for atrazine were
inadequate. However, none of several recommended label changes has been
The report recommended labels prohibit the use of atrazine products
in drainage lines. The chemical should not be handled or mixed in areas
susceptible to runoff into waterways. New labels should prohibit the
use of atrazine in grazing areas. They should insist that incidents
of resistance to the chemical be reported.
The European Union banned atrazine owing to concerns that residues
in ground water might exceed a nominal limit of 0.1parts per billion,
but it is allowed for "essential uses" in some countries.
Australia allows atrazine in drinking water at up to 40 parts per billion.
National Toxics Network co-ordinator Jo Immig said opposition from
farmers, especially canola growers, had held up the introduction of
new labels for the chemical.
"There is plenty of evidence ... about concerns with this chemical,"
said Ms Immig, an environmental scientist. "It is unacceptable that
atrazine continues to be the second most widely used herbicide in Australia."
Lyndon Pfeffer, grains officer for Queensland farmers group Agforce,
said atrazine users had not been informed by APVMA of the recommended
label changes. Mr Pfeffer said the chemical was an important tool for
farmers, especially for grass control.
"There are no economic alternatives available. If there were cheaper
options ... farmers would switch," he said.
Uses for atrazine were tightened following a review in 1997. The chemical
is the subject of another review by APVMA. APVMA chemical review manager
Les Davies said the label changes recommended in 2004 would be implemented
as part of the current review. Dr Davies said they had not been introduced
earlier as new information was continually surfacing.
"APVMA wanted to be sure the new information did not have implications
for the 2004 recommendations and therefore held up implementing those
while we assessed this information," he said.
A study last year in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives
by Japanese and US scientists said atrazine was a risk factor in reproductive
cancers in rats and humans.
Forestry spray may castrate rare Valley frogs
Josh McMahon Josh McMahon, Clarence Valley Review. 5/2/08
Concerns have been raised that frogs in the Coaldale area - including
two threatened species - may become unable to reproduce as a result
of chemical spraying of thousands of hectares of plantation timber.
Forest Enterprises Australia has bought or leased in excess of 20,000
hectares of land on the Northern Rivers for its plantations, which require
use of herbicide and insecticide to control weeds and insects. The company
last year confirmed its use of herbicide simazine – banned in the European
Union but used extensively in Australia.
John Edwards, of the Clarence Environment Centre, expressed his concern
about the future of the Coaldale ecology, after he discovered scientific
research that showed simazine could chemically castrate frogs at extremely
The research by University of California professor Tyrone B. Hayes
revealed that at just 0.1 parts per billion, the chemical turned on
an enzyme in frogs called aromastase, which converted testosterone hormones
into oestrogen. The hormonal change caused male frogs to mutate into
hermaphrodites – with both female and male reproductive organs – that
were unable to reproduce.
Mr Edwards said the research could indicate the ecologically vital
frog population at Coaldale was under threat - including the endangered
Giant Barred Frog and rare Green-Thighed Frog, listed as inhabiting
the area. The species are protected under State and Federal legislation.
“Frogs are at the bottom of the food chain … if a whole level of the
food chain is removed it will have fairly horrific consequences for
the entire biodiversity of the area,” Mr Edwards said.
He added the chemical would have certainly entered waterways such
as a swamp on the Barrett’s Creek Road, where plantation trees could
be seen as close as 10-15 metres from the water’s edge. Mr Edwards has
written to NSW Premier Morris Iemma, alerting him to the potential effects
of spraying upon the rare frogs and urging him to take action.
Aerial spraying last week resumed by contractors on behalf of FEA.
Spraying by the contractor last year resulted in a fine of $400 being
issued to one of its pilots, after testing by the Department of Environment
Conservation and Climate (DECC) revealed low-level contamination of
property adjoining a timber plantation. Simazine was found at less than
10mg/kg; and clopyralid at less than 2mg/kg.
In 2006 testing also revealed the contractor had contaminated another
private property with herbicides, but no penalty was imposed. FEA forestry
operations manager Chris Barnes last week said simazine wasn’t being
used in the current spray, but refused to answer any other questions,
saying, “All I’m prepared to say is that any concerned resident in the
Valley, we encourage them to speak to us directly”.
In the United States, simazine use was banned in October 2006 in areas
inhabited by the threatened California Red-Legged Frog, as a result
of legal action. Subsequent studies by the Environment Protection Agency
(EPA) confirmed simazine was likely to have an adverse affect upon the
species and its critical habitat.
Prof Hayes’ research into simazine also raises concerns about the potential
effects of upon humans, according to Friends of the Earth Australia’s
Anthony Amis. The group hosted a visit by Prof Hayes in June last year.
“Of special concern is the fact that the aromostase gene sequence and
regulation in frogs is the same as humans. If [simazine] has such an
impact on frogs what about people?” he said.
According to Prof Hayes, simazine can cause increased rates of prostate
and breast cancer in test animals, and there was also anecdotal evidence
of increased incidence of cancer among humans exposed to the chemical.
Act now on herbicide: minister
February 05, 2008 Greg Roberts The Australian
THE federal body responsible for regulating chemicals has been ordered
by Agriculture Minister Tony Burke to introduce immediately label changes
for the controversial herbicide atrazine that were recommended four
Mr Burke signalled a tough new approach to chemicals registration,
telling the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority
he expected better communication with user groups.
The minister's comments come amid revelations atrazine, which has been
linked in overseas studies to reproductive cancers, was found in the
drinking water of three Victorian towns.
The Australian reported last week that the APVMA had failed to implement
labelling changes it recommended for the use of atrazine in a 2004 report.
The new labels would have banned the use of the herbicide, one of the
most widely used agricultural chemicals in Australia, from drainage
lines and areas susceptible to runoff into waterways.
Mr Burke told The Australian he was concerned that the 2004 recommendations
had not been implemented.
"While I understand there was some scientific conjecture about the
risks associated with its use and a range of previous changes implemented,
I have asked that the APVMA implement the recommendations as a matter
of priority," he said.
The APVMA is concluding another review of atrazine.
Mr Burke said he had asked the authority to inform user groups about
Victorian water supply agency Lower Murray Water has revealed in response
to a Freedom of Information request from Friends of the Earth that atrazine
was found in May 2006 in the drinking water supplies of three Murray
River towns - Mildura, Red Cliffs and Piangil.
Western Creek aerial spraying prompts
concerns 15/2/08 ABC Radio
Residents at Western Creek in northern Tasmania say they fear for their
health, after the aerial spraying of tree plantations near the Meander
Dam. The concerns come on the day the Meander Dam was officially opened.
Timber company Gunns started spraying the insecticide Dominex Duo on
its plantations in the Meander area this morning, after notifying residents
last week. Resident, Deborah Lynch, says there are concerns Gunns breached
spraying guidelines and the spray drift will contaminate drinking water.
"We're concerned obviously for our health, our own health, we're concerned
for the health of the waterway," said Ms Lynch.
The manager of Gunns Plantations, Ian Blanden, says all spraying was
performed within the relevant guidelines. "This is just an example where
we're going about our routine activities in as responsible a manner
as we possibly can," he said.
Residents say there wasn't enough consultation before the spraying.
Gunns denies the claim.
photos see here)
Toxic water supply fears for Candowie.
16/4/08 Phillip Island & San Remo Advertiser p5
Candowie Reservoir - the source of local water supplies - could be
polluted with toxic pesticides not tested by Westernport Water, following
the establishment of new plantations on its banks.
And the 133 hectare plantation could also suck up precious quantities
of underground water from the reservoir. According to conservation group
Friends of the Earth a plantation of bluegum and Australian native trees
has been newly planted within 500 metres of the reservoir and poses
a major risk to human health.
Friends of the Earth land use researcher, Anthony Amis, said according
to a Freedom of Information request, Westernport Water has not tested
for pesticides since late 2003. "And certainly not for the pesticides
used in bluegum plantations" said Mr Amis.
He said herbicides in bluegum plantations were generally used only
in the first two years, with many including Simazine, Amitrole and Terbacil
causing major threats to health.
"In new plantations trees can be established right up to existing drainage
lines, increasing the likelihood of pesticide runoff into waterways
Mr Amis said insecticides were sometimes used in bluegum plantations,
which could affect the human nervous system. "Generally speaking, these
insecticides can be used at any time after the second year, up to several
times per year. "Insecticides are almost always applied from the air,
increasing the risk of spray drift."
When the plantation first sought a planning permit, Westernport Water
initially expressed concern. Westernport Water acting managing director,
Keith Gregory, said in November last year a planning permit was given
to the plantation's owners, Woollybutt, based on a management plan that
included seven conditions. He said as part of the management plan the
company was required to plant reeds to contain any pesticide run off.
"We always have concerns when anything is built close to the reservoir,"
said Mr Gregory. "But there is no real direct run off into the dam (from
pesticides on the plantation). Where there is a likelihood of that happening
we have asked them to plant reeds to stop the run off. "Inevitably there
will be a little, we can't take it all away. The whole area has run
off from farms."
Mr Gregory said Westernport Water did not test for pesticides as part
of their routine testing, as outlined in national guidelines, but would
consider doing so. However he said when there was major rain fall testing
did take place.
He could not say which chemicals were tested for or when the last pesticide
testing took place, noting that as far back as 2004 no testing had taken
place. There are no issues I have been made aware of. "We take every
test we can to ensure the quality of our water. "When there is a major
rain fall event we do major testing."
He said farms in the area often conducted aerial spraying and were
required to advise Westernport Water of these sprays. However the management
plan clearly outlines that no aerial spraying will be undertaken, and
should this occur it would be a clear breach of the permit. "We will
be keeping our eye on it."
Precious water supply reduced
Mr Amis said the plantation also threatened to reduce the inflows of
underground water into Candowie, with growing trees much thirstier than
mature trees. He said in the amount of water used by a 100 hectare area
plantation increased to about 200 million litres by year ten. "It does
not create a good precedent to have a plantation so close to a drinking
water supply. Plantations suck up a huge amount of water. It's one of
the closest I've ever seen to a domestic water supply".
Mr Gregory said Westernport Water studies showed the plantation would
not greatly reduce water quantity into Candowie. He said the same land
was previously used to farm snow peas, and the new plantation would
have the same impact as the snow peas in terms of consumption of rain
run off. However he did admit plantations used more underground water.
"We don't see it being great at all. Our view of the yield effect is
that is expected to be negligible. "It's only a portion of our total
area where we collect water from so it's not going to be great."
Council: No choice but to approve
According to Bass Coast Shire planning and environment director Hannah
Duncan-Jones it was not possible for council to reject the application
as it would go against both Federal and State Government policy, which
supports the development of timber plantations. "If we had refused the
application it would have been approved by the Victorian Civil and Administrative
Tribunal (VCAT)." said Ms Duncan-Jones. The plantation, at Grantville-Glen
Alvie Road and Tozer Road, Almurta, will include 50 hectares of bluegum,
30 hectares of yellow stringybark and 20 hectares of spotted gum with
many smaller native species. The life span of the plantation will be
more than 50 years.
Westernport Water does about face
on pesticide testing 23/4/08 Phillip Island & San Remo Advertiser
Westernport Water has responded to community concerns and will now
test for pesticides in Candowie Reservoir, the source of local water
The backflip follows fears outlined in The Advertiser last week that
the reservoir could be polluted with toxic pesticides - not previously
tested by the water authority - following the establishment of a new
tree plantation on its banks.
According to conservation group Friends of the Earth the 133 hectare
soon-to-be-planted blue gum and Australian native plantation is within
500 metres of the reservoir and poses a major risk to human health.
Friends of the Earth land use researcher Anthony Amis said Freedom
of Information documents showed the authority had not tested for pesticides
since late 2003.
However Westernport Water acting managing director Keith Gregory said
the authority’s monthly board meeting last week agreed to test for pesticides
from the plantation.
Mr Gregory said the plantation’s owner Woollybutt would supply a list
of all chemicals to be used, with the first spraying to start in June
and the following and final spray 12 months later.
“We will be testing the water now to see what the standard is like
before spraying begins, then we will be taking tests regularly after
that. We will continue to monitor the water,” said Mr Gregory.
He said it was not yet decided how frequent the testing would be but
suggested it would be every month or two and definitely around major
rain fall events. Results would be made public.
He said Woollybutt had confirmed they would not spray on windy or rainy
Friends of the Earth’s Anthony Amis welcomed Westernport Water’s decision
to test for pesticides. He said not only pesticides but herbicides and
insecticides should be tested and he waited with interest to see which
chemicals were being used and would be tested for. “The more residual
pesticides are of most concern, but it depends entirely on what is going
to be sprayed,” he said.
“Also of concern is the regulatory position that makes a dose poisonous.
Recent research is indicating that pesticides such as simazine have
negative impacts well below the level thought to be safe by drinking
Mr Amis said ultimately Westernport Water should do a catchment audit,
including Bass River and Lance Creek, asking farmers what they are using
and in what quantities. Bass River and Lance Creek are now supplementing
the Candowie Supply.
Mr Gregory said testing would continue on fertilisers in the larger
catchment from farming run-off. “The quality of the water over time
will be even better than it is now, simply because if cattle are not
on nearby land and you’re not spraying chemicals then the water quality
will be excellent.”
Residents spoke out about the pesticide threat with one letter to the
Advertiser urging householders to be vigilant.
Surf Beach resident Jan Fleming said the fact plantations use massive
amounts of herbicides, pesticides and fertilisers dangerous to humans
was of great concern. “If there are to be seven conditions on any permit,
including no aerial spraying, who makes sure these companies adhere
to the conditions?,” she wrote. “Authorities and users of this water
must be vigilant.”
High cost of water
Mr Amis said the plantation threatened to reduce the inflows of underground
water into Candowie, with growing trees much thirstier than mature trees.
He said the amount of water used by a 100 hectare plantation increased
to about 200 million litres per year by year ten, costing about $1128
per million litres per year, based on current Westernport Water charges.
“That's $225,600 worth of water by year 10 above what is being used
now,” he said. “The longer the trees are in the ground the more water
they will use.If the trees are there for 30 years the total could be
much much higher.”
Mr Amis said while the plantation’s owners were the Australia-based
Woollybutt, documents showed links with the major Malaysian plantation
company Rimbunan Hijau. “So the question is why should Malaysian interests
associated with one of the worst logging companies on the planet, be
allowed to use your local drinking water?”
Mr Gregory said Westernport Water studies showed the plantation would
not greatly reduce rain fall water quantity into Candowie, but he did
admit plantations used more underground water.
According to Bass Coast Shire it was not possible for council to reject
the application as it would go against both Federal and State Government
policy, which supports the development of timber plantations.
The plantation, at Grantville-Glen Alvie Road and Tozer Road Almurta,
will include 50 hectares of blue gum, 30 hectares of yellow stringybark
and 20 hectares of spotted gum with many smaller native species. The
life span of the plantation will be more than 50 years.
Alarm at Weed-kill Chemical
in Water Matthew Denholm May 15, 2008
AUSTRALIAN regulators have allowed a widely used weed killer to be
present in drinking water at levels twice those now shown to cause damaging
genetic changes in human cells.
A new study by the University of California, San Francisco, has found
atrazine increases activity of human genes linked to fetal growth retardation
Atrazine is used to control weeds in forest plantations and crops such
as canola, sugarcane, maize, sorghum and lupins across Australia.
Holly Ingraham, study senior author and UCSF professor of cellular
and molecular pharmacology, told The Australian significant effects
on human placental cells were seen when exposed to as little as 20 parts
per billion of atrazine. This is half the 40ppb atrazine health value
limit under the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines. The US has a drinking
water maximum of 3ppb for atrazine, while Europe has refused to approve
it for use.
Professor Ingraham said as a scientist she had "no agenda" in terms
of regulation, but she believed Australia's health value of 40ppb was
"worrying". "If it were me drinking water, I would want it as low as
possible," she said.
The study also exposed zebrafish to the chemical, finding significant
effects at 2ppb and changes to sex ratios at 20ppb.
Earlier this month, the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines
Authority announced its review of atrazine had concluded "no changes
to the existing health standards" were needed. This was because while
atrazine had been shown to disrupt the nervous, hormone and reproductive
systems of rats, it was "unlikely that atrazine is an endocrine (hormonal)
disruptor in humans".
However, the UCSF study drew the opposite conclusion. "Our results
strongly suggest that atrazine is an endocrine disruptor - it is indirectly
estrogenic, and it most certainly has the potential to influence reproduction,
as well as other endocrine functions," Professor Ingraham said.
Endocrine disruptors affect the body's hormonal system, potentially
affecting growth, development and reproduction. "Would a fetus or child
be especially sensitive to this herbicide? Probably.
Our study shows that some of the genes targeted by atrazine have already
been linked to intrauterine growth retardation and infertility."
APVMA public affairs manager Simon Cubit said the regulator's decision
not to toughen atrazine restrictions was based on "weight-of-evidence"
from many studies.
However, APVMA had sought expert advice from Australia's Office of
Chemical Safety and drawn its attention to Professor Ingraham's study.
The Health and Medical Research Council said it would consider "all
the latest evidence" as part of its review of drinking water guidelines.
Atrazine producer Syngenta did not comment but has insisted the product
poses no risk to human health.
Tasmanian GP Alison Bleaney, who believes atrazine may be linked to
high rates of cancer and auto-immune disease, demanded an urgent regulatory
rethink. "One would hope that our regulators would be protecting us
and protection means occasionally that you have to take a stand on the
balance of probabilities," she said. "And the balance of probabilities
has shown for some years that atrazine is not a safe chemical to have
in our environment."
Gunns hit with ban on use of
herbicide Matthew Denholm May 17, 2008 The Australian
TASMANIA'S Director of Public Health has banned Gunns from using controversial
herbicides in a town drinking-water catchment and suggested their use
state-wide be reconsidered.
Roscoe Taylor revealed yesterday he had directed the timber company
not to use the triazine herbicides - atrazine and simazine - to control
weeds in its forest plantations in the Macquarie River catchment. This
followed repeated detection of simazine in drinking water supplies for
the town of Ross at levels more than double the national guideline.
Dr Taylor also told The Weekend Australian he believed the use of the
chemicals in cooler states might need to be re-examined following evidence
they were persisting longer in cool environments. "There have been two
detections of simazine in drinking-water catchments in Tasmania in four
years," Dr Taylor said.
"From my point of view (it's) three strikes and it's out." "If it can
be demonstrated that these things are persisting (in the environment)
despite good practice in their application, then maybe people need to
look at whether or not their application in the Tasmanian setting is
Also yesterday, Gunns confirmed it was reviewing the use of the herbicides,
linked by some research to cancers and hormonal defects, on its plantations.
The developments follow The Australian's report earlier this week that
American researchers had found that atrazine caused damaging changes
to human cells at levels half those of Australia's drinking-water health
"I'm regarding this matter as under investigation," Dr Taylor said.
"The issues include whether or not the triazine herbicides demonstrate
greater persistence in the Tasmanian environment than they may, say,
in a warmer climate."
He had observed persistence of the chemicals in the Prosser catchment
at Orford, on Tasmania's east coast. "There was a fairly lengthy degree
of persistence over many months - the chemical just stayed at very,
very low concentrations," he said.
The State Department of Primary Industries and Water was developing
ways to assess the risks of chemical use in water catchments. Dr Taylor
would then pursue the issue via the national Agricultural, Silvicultural
and Veterinary Chemicals Council.
"Until those pieces of information are provided to me, I feel it is
best to ask operators to avoid using this long-acting herbicide in that
particular catchment, where there is a public drinking-water supply
that was contaminated," he said.
"My brief is to protect public health and I believe that the community
should be reassured that in these cases, public health protection has
occurred." He said atrazine levels in the Macquarie River, a source
of drinking water for the Midlands town of Ross, had ranged as high
as 1.35 parts per billion, far above the Australian Drinking Water Guideline
of 0.5 > ppb.
The level was far below health value levels and Ross's water supply
was already unfit for drinking because of algal contamination. "(However),
it's an unnecessary chemical to have in our drinking-water supply and
therefore measures should betaken to reduce it," Dr Taylor said.
Gunns had complied with his directive. "In fact, they indicated they
would be seeking to review the application of chemicals on plantations,"
Dr Taylor said. "I will be interested to see what that review brings
forward." Gunns confirmed that a review was under way.
Fined $10,000 for Spray Drift
Damage September 19 2012 (The Weekly Times)
Plantations sprayed highly likely to be Hancock Plantations
AN AERIAL spray contractor has been fined $10,000 for causing damage
in the Kinglake National Park and Black Ranges State Forest.
In the first case of its type, Forest Air Helicopters, of Albury, pleaded
guilty to three charges in the Wodonga Magistrates Court earlier this
A Forest Air Helicopters spokesman said they'd had to ''take it on
the chin'', because the damage had occurred despite the implementation
of the usual strict safety precautions.
Subsequent company investigations found only eucalypts recovering from
the Black Saturday bushfires were affected.
It took a global search to discover that the trees had become more
susceptible than usual to herbicides because of the intensity of the
Black Saturday fires, which had been estimated at 10 to 375 times as
strong as a prescribed burn.
''We searched around the world to find data on chemicals and fire-damaged
eucalypts,'' he said. ''Historically up to five times as much glyphosate
could be sprayed on eucalypts without drama.
''We eventually found they were so sensitive that if anything touched
them at all . . . we weren't to know that, nobody was to know that.
''We couldn't find any documented cases of this type of thing. It was
a problem no one foresaw.''
A Department of Sustainability and Environment spokesman said he was
not aware of any previous or current research into the effects of fire
damage and chemicals on native trees.
The spray drift incident occurred over 10 days in April 2010 while
Forest Air Helicopters was spraying a mixture of glyphosate and metsulfuron-methyl
to control weeds in a forestry pine plantation.
It resulted in damage to more than 200ha of bushland near a number
of forestry coupes at Kinglake West, Buxton and Narbethong.
The Forest Air Helicopters spokesman said he had never seen anything
like it in his 20 incident-free years in the industry. They ran the
usual computer modelling and risk assessments beforehand, had boundary
riders in radio contact with the pilot and buffer zones in place on
All manufacturers recommendations and chemical label rates were observed.
''I've been using these two chemicals for years and never ever had even
a hint of a problem,'' he said.
''There was no indication of a problem at any time. If there had been
we would have stopped.''
After the problem became apparent six weeks later, the company started
its own investigations, which cost more than $230,000 and involved taking
their equipment, as well as 14 chemicals, mixers and surfactants to
Queensland for testing in a wind tunnel.
The spokesman said tests showed only minute, harmless quantities of
chemical would have left the target site, as expected.
Forest Air Helicopters pleaded guilty to three charges in the Wodonga
Magistrates Court earlier this month.
Another seven charges were struck out. As well as the fine, the company
was ordered to pay court and other costs totalling $27,024.61.
No conviction was recorded. Department of Primary Industries chemical
standards officer Jane Rhodes said the matter was a timely reminder
for all spray contractors.