McLaren Vale growers celebrate PFAS rejection as Bignell bill heads back to Parliament

McLaren Vale growers celebrate PFAS rejection as Bignell bill heads back to Parliament

News
Sabella Vineyards owner Joe Petrucci is ecstatic with the EPA's decision to reject an application to store PFAS waste near McLaren Vale.

Sabella Vineyards owner Joe Petrucci is ecstatic with the EPA's decision to reject an application to store PFAS waste near McLaren Vale.

Aa

WHILE the McLaren Vale community and local food and wine producers celebrate the Environmental Protection Agency's decision to reject a plan to store PFAS-contaminated waste in the region, the wider issue of where to store such material has re-entered Parliament.

Aa

WHILE the McLaren Vale community and local food and wine producers celebrate the Environmental Protection Agency's decision to reject a plan to store PFAS-contaminated waste in the region, the wider issue of where to store such material has re-entered Parliament.

Member for Mawson Leon Bignell - one of the leaders of the year-long campaign to have the McLaren Vale storage plan canned - has put forward legislation which would prevent waste containing per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances from being dumped within the metropolitan region, within five kilometres of any regional town in SA and from within 50km of primary production land.

It is not the first time the legislation has been put in front of Parliament, with the same bill voted down in November last year.

At the time, Environment Minister David Speirs opposed the bill on the premise it could lead to illegal dumping.

Mr Bignell is hopeful the recent community outcry in McLaren Vale will contribute to the bill's successful passage on this attempt.

"We celebrated last week, with members of the community gathering to toast the success of that battle being won, but the battle will continue to make sure it doesn't happen again here or the rest of the state," he said.

"I don't think graingrowers in the South East or vegetable growers on the Adelaide Plains want PFAS in their area either."

PFAS substances have previously been used in firefighting foams, with studies finding their most-studied compounds exhibit up to five key carcinogenic characteristics.

SA banned potentially hazardous fluorinated firefighting foams in early 2018.

While the PFAS bill was expected to pass a upper house vote on Wednesday, the state government has already signalled its intent to block it once it reaches the lower house.

A state government spokesperson said the proposal was "populist and impractical".

"The bill would make it basically impossible for any future proposal to be successful regardless of its potential merits," the spokesperson said.

"The EPA are independent experts who make decisions on best available science and it's important they are allowed to do their work without political interference."

EPA REJECT MCLAREN VALE STORAGE PLAN

After considerable community backlash, a Southern Waste ResourceCo application to receive and store PFAS-contaminated waste at its landfill site near McLaren Vale was rejected by the EPA late last week.

EPA chief executive Tony Circelli said while the EPA board acknowledged Southern Waste ResourceCo had proposed "best practice engineering measures in its application", an unacceptable level of risk still remained.

"In its deliberations the Board noted that PFAS is a persistent and bio-accumulative chemical of concern that is toxic to some organisms, highly transmissible in water, with national agreement that special guidelines should apply to its management," he said.

Mr Circelli said uncertainties about the nature of PFAS and inter-generational considerations dictated the need for a precautionary approach.

City of Onkaparinga mayor Erin Thompson said the EPA had made the right decision.

"This is a great win for our communities and our world-class wine region, and a prime example of what we can achieve when we work together," she said.

"I'd like to thank everyone that attended a meeting, signed a petition and contacted the EPA, the Premier and council with your concerns."

Experienced winemaker, grapegrower and Sabella Vineyards owner Joe Petrucci, who has called McLaren Vale home since 1976, said the EPA's rejection of the proposed PFAS storage plan was a massive relief for the community.

"We've got lots of vineyards, we're close to sea and this is one of the best areas in the world so I don't know who thought it was a good idea to store it here," he said.

"I've got kids and grandkids whose futures are in this area and I don't want any of that waste coming here."

Mr Petrucci said he was supportive of Mr Bignell's bill, saying it would prevent any future PFAS storage applications in food and wine bowls like McLaren Vale.

Start the day with all the big news in agriculture. Sign up here to receive our daily Stock Journal newsletter.

Aa

From the front page

Sponsored by