Viking Transport still trying to conduct log fumigation in Altona
Last year Viking Transport started a log storage and handling facility without any council permits. Once council notified them that they needed a permit they applied for one, and it was later revealed that they were fumigating logs with methyl bromide on site – only 200 metres from homes.
Viking Transport export logs to China which requires that logs be fumigated with methyl bromide before export, which is known to have many adverse environmental and health impacts. This chemical is banned in the European Union, but in Australia it is still permitted for use for products being exported (a cynic might say it’s a case of the government putting the economy and jobs before the environment and health).
New Zealand also exports logs to China, but in their case they fumigate the logs offshore. The same happens for logs exported to Chine from Tasmania. While this is not the best environmental solution because it still utilises this ozone depleting gas, it is safer for residents and I therefore believe we should insist on the same process.
I was pleased to lead a campaign against onsite log fumigation and the use of methyl bromide, and following a huge community outcry Viking Transport withdrew log fumigation from their planning permit application. The permit was then issued by the council with a number of conditions including:
- No log fumigation on site;
- Hours of operation limited to 7am to 6pm during the week and from 9am to 1pm on Saturdays; and
- Measures to limit the noise, visual amenity and air quality (dust) impacts on neighbouring residents.
Viking Transport are still not happy, so they have now applied to VCAT to have the conditions removed – including the condition prohibiting onsite log fumigation.
I have now lodged an official objection to Viking Transport’s application with VCAT.
I believe Viking Transport should accept the conditions of the permit approved by the council and immediately withdraw their appeal from VCAT. The council’s permit allow Viking to continue their log storage and freight operations but expressly without any log fumigation on site and by minimising other impacts on their neighbours. Viking Transport must remember they are located only 200 metres from homes, so they have a huge impact on local residents.
Industries like Viking Transport, Mobil, Dow Chemical and Innova must be put on notice. Industry cannot be left to do what they like in Altona.
I hope my joining as an objector at the VCAT hearing will strengthen the campaign against Viking and council’s defence of its permit conditions. I took a hard stand against log fumigation when this issue came to the council and am extremely disappointed Viking are continuing to push log fumigation on the local community.
Please join the campaign against Viking Transport’s push for log fumigation in Altona by sending me an email and joining us at VCAT when the hearings are held in May – either as an objector (which will allow you to be heard at the hearing) or as a supporter in the gallery.
Cr Tony Briffa JP
Deputy Mayor, City of Hobsons Bay
Councillor for Altona & Seaholme