Victoria’s five leading environment groups: Environment Victoria, Australian Conservation Foundation, Friends of the Earth, The Wilderness Society and Victorian National Parks Association have today released a joint statement raising more concerns about Yarra toxins.

Their Media Release reads:

A chemical which poses a toxic health risk to marine life and could cause cancer in humans has been found in extremely high levels at the mouth of the Yarra River, a previously unreleased report reveals.

With dredging of contaminated areas of the Yarra mouth due to start today as part of the Port Phillip Bay channel deepening project, the Victorian National Parks Association (VNPA) has called for a halt to the work in order to fully assess the risks for marine animals and the environment.
Samples taken by Greenpeace Australia at the Yarra mouth in 1997 shows there are higher levels of short-chained chlorinated paraffin’s (SCCPs) than other known contaminated sites in the USA, UK and Sweden.
SCCPs have been categorised as possibly carcinogenic to humans by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) – an intergovernmental agency forming part of the World Health Organisation of the United Nations.
VNPA Marine and Coastal Project Officer Megan Clinton said that the Supplementary Environment Effects Statement (SEES) process skimmed over the impact of dredging SCCPs, ignoring the significant risk of damage to people as well as the marine environment.
"There’s a real danger in disturbing these toxic chemicals and then simply dumping them in what is soon to be Victoria’s biggest toxic waste dump located in the middle of Port Phillip Bay,’’ Ms Clinton said.
“These chemicals are very toxic to aquatic organisms and may cause long-term adverse effects in the aquatic environment.’’
A global ban on SCCPs is being considered under the Stockholm Convention on POPs (Persistent Organic Pollutants). POPs are chemicals that remain intact in the environment for long periods, become widely distributed geographically, accumulate in the fatty tissue of living organisms and are toxic to humans and wildlife. 
Ms Clinton said the report showed SCCPs were found in sediment, mussel and crab samples at the Yarra mouth and were indicative of the cocktails of chemicals from old industrial activity. 
“Clearly dredging chemicals of this nature is not safe. The State Government should be looking at alternatives and leaving these toxic chemicals where they are.’’

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