Dept quarantines itself

THE federal agriculture department has told opponents of a proposed solar farm on the old South Fremantle tip site it will not intervene.

Former Fremantle state MP Adele Carles had written to the department asking for it to investigate whether old medical waste buried somewhere in the site would mean its approval was necessary before renewable energy provider Epuron could install solar panels.

The waste was buried by the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service decades ago, and in 2005 it warned Fremantle council about inadvertently exposing pathogens during any earthworks.

AQIS’s manager of cargo management and shipping group at the time, Robert Murphy, confirmed the medical waste was “within my area of responsibility”.

But AQIS was absorbed into the federal agriculture department in 2012 and a new biosecurity act was introduced in 2015, and now it appears to have dropped off the radar.

In a very short statement, the department confirmed to the Herald what it told Ms Carles: “The ongoing management of the South Fremantle landfill site is the responsibility of the Western Australian state government and its local jurisdiction,” the department said in a statement.

Ms Carles was unimpressed: “The Federal Department has given a ‘Yes Minister’ response,” she said.

“While it acknowledges that quarantine waste is buried at the site, it says it won’t administer the site under its biosecurity act, but it will continue to work with the City of Fremantle to address the biosecurity risk. 

“So who do we  trust to manage this  biosecurity risk, given that the City of Fremantle refuses to acknowledge it in the site management plan? 

“How can affected residents in North Coogee and South Fremantle have any confidence that their health and safety will be assured, given this Mickey Mouse response?”

by STEVE GRANT

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