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NSW farmers lauded for chemical waste safety

January 27, 2017

NSW farmers lauded for chemical waste safety

Property owners in New South Wales earned their stripes as environmental warriors, when they contributed to record volumes of unused agricultural chemicals during Agsafe’s ChemClear collection last month.

More than 44,000lt/kg* were registered and delivered to collection sites in New South Wales during ChemClear’s December collection, the highest amount of waste chemicals turned in for NSW since the program started in 2003.

ChemClear program manager, Lisa Nixon, said landowners demonstrated they were prepared to put good intentions into action, with their commitment to environmental safety in the agriculture industry.

“ChemClear has been operational in Australia for 14 years, and in that time we have collected in excess of 589 tonne of obsolete chemical for safe disposal,” Mrs Nixon said.

“This particular collection has proved that we are not getting any closer to cleaning up the old or unwanted agvet chemical from farms.

“It is literally still coming out of the woodwork and we are very fortunate that chemical users see ChemClear as the landing spot for these chemicals to be treated appropriately and environmentally.”

For many farmers and rural property owners, the problem of disposing containers with unknown chemical residue often presents as an unwelcome surprise when they buy or sell a property.

Managing the dangers of hazardous substances seeping into soil and waterways is one of many issues landowners face when they find often unlabeled, unknown chemicals hidden in sheds or paddocks.

The unwanted chemicals also pose a potential risk to children, land workers, livestock and pets.

Seasoned crop spray pilot, Mr Lauren Munro, owns Central Western Air Spray in Forbes, which has been carrying out aerial applications on wheat and pulse crops since the early 1970s.

When his father and business partner, Darby, passed away last year, Mr Munro cleared out more than 1000 litres of unwanted chemicals stockpiled in his hangar, including rusty steel drums containing unusable product.

He said ChemClear was a safe disposal program, vital for protecting both people and crops.

“There’s a threat if someone grabs the wrong drum as it can affect the whole crop,” Mr Munro said.

“You can’t tip them out so ChemClear gets rid of it and out of circulation as it’s no use to anyone, so just make the call and register.”

The ChemClear collection team carried out the pickup directly from Mr Munro’s hangar at Forbes airport.

The ChemClear program was supported by a $150,000 grant from the NSW Government’s Waste Less Recycle More Initiative, managed by the NSW Environmental Protection Authority.

The funding assistance helped property owners pay for the safe disposal of out-of-date and unknown chemical waste.

Two years ago, Annabel and David King-Christopher bought their 100ha grazing property at Borenore and discovered unused chemicals in a shed.

The couple’s registration qualified for the Waste Less, Recycle More Initiative grant when they learned it would cost them almost $3000 to dispose of the unknown and unlabeled chemicals safely.

Mrs King-Christopher said she was relieved about getting rid of the unwanted waste at a fraction of the cost.

“Had the funding not been there, the stuff would still be in the shed … we didn’t know what to do with it at first and it’s great that someone offers to take it all away,” she said.

The chemicals were delivered to Cabonne Shire Council’s Manildra collection site, before being transported to the processing plant in order to produce an alternate fuel source.

Agsafe is an Australian non-profit organization offering programs in support of agvet product stewardship: Accreditation and Training, drumMUSTER (container management) and ChemClear (chemical disposal).

ChemClear fosters the safe removal of approved, registered Group 1 chemicals and unknown, unlabeled Group 2 products in favour of environmentally-sound disposal solutions.

Visit the ChemClear website at: www.chemclear.org.au or phone 1800 008 182 to register.

*litres per kilogram

ENDS

For interviews and photos contact:

Lisa Nixon, National Program Manager, ChemClear. Phone: 0488 188 149

Mr Lauren Munro, Owner, Central Western Air Spray (Forbes) Ltd, NSW. Phone: 0428 666 404

Annabel King-Christopher, Borenore, NSW. Phone: 0427 690 006

Also, Dr Frances Holmes, Emu Swamp, NSW. Phone: 0427 074 640