2nd Kennett Ministry

NEWS RELEASE



From the Offices of the Ministers for Planning and Local Government and Industry, Science and Technology


Tuesday, June 24, 1997

NO CHEMICAL STORAGE PROPOSAL FOR POINT LILLIAS

The Victorian Government announced today that the proposed chemical storage facility at Point Lillias would not proceed, following a Ministerial determination on the projects Environment Effects Statement.

The Minister for Planning and Local Government, Mr Robert Maclellan, said the Government would now initiate a process to review the operation at Coode Island to ensure it fully meets appropriate environment and safety standards.

It has become clear that development of a new chemical storage facility at Point Lillias is impracticable, Mr Maclellan said.

Twelve months ago, I gave conditional planning approval to the Point Lillias site following the release of the independent panel report into the Environment Effects Statement. I made it clear then that final approval could only be given following an assessment of environmental and occupational health and safety factors.

On balance I have decided that unconditional approval for the new site cannot be given. I have received advice on occupational health and safety and aboriginal heritage issues, along with advice on the current management standards and performance at Coode Island.

A taskforce will be convened by the Government, involving the Health and Safety division of the Victorian WorkCover Authority, the Environment Protection Authority and the Melbourne Port Corporation to secure long-term sustainable management of the current Coode Island chemical storage facility.

The Government has been advised by the Victorian WorkCover Authority that the current Coode Island storage facility, which has been the subject of about $18 million in improvement since 1991, is operating safely and within all recognised standards.

Best practice environment and health management will be a mandatory requirement of the new arrangements, Mr Maclellan said.

The Victorian Government pursued every avenue over the last four years to secure an alternative site and will now focus public resources into re-engineering and improving chemical storage on the existing site.

The Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, Mr Mark Birrell, said the Government was acting in the public interest to meet three key objectives:

· human safety;
· environmental protection; and
· a viable future for Victorian industry.

Mr Birrell said the Government was committed to working closely with relevant groups - including community bodies and industry specialists - to implement a long-term strategy which achieves the best possible outcome for Victoria.

The chemical industry is an important national industry and major local employer. It deserves certainty and this decision will ensure it has a stable future. With extra investment over time, the existing storage facilities can be further modernised, Mr Birrell said.

Media inquiries: Gavin Clancy or Nicole Laurie (03) 9651 5799