Coastal Sun May 30th 2002 – Poisoned Smokescreen / Under Scrutiny / Jones Praises Brett’s Cause

Published with permission

Poisoned Smokescreen (State Agency Sells Tordon-Injected Trees for Firewood?)

Tordon DSH – not exactly Agent Orange (which has 2, 4-D as an ingredient) – is not just a poison used to kill trees, as it comes complete with manufacturer’s advice, ‘not advisable to burn in open fireplaces’.

Regardless of that advice people are still able to gather wood for their home fires from forest areas previously treated.
Mr Pickering, from State Forests Narooma, had previously told the Sun that persons harvesting wood illegally, in Tordon-injected areas, did so at their own risk.

He said State Forests does not issue permits for parts of the forest, where there could be a risk of cutting up poisoned trees.
But, on May 23, the Sun obtained a signed permit authorising it to ‘take, on and from State Forests of Batemans Bay and Narooma Mangagement Area, timber of the following description – dead, fallen firewood – one tonne at $15, plus GST $1.50, having a value of $16.50’.

On May 23, the Sun travelled to the Maulbrooks Road near Mogo, using the map given to it by State Forests – a map clearly indicating the areas where we could harvest dead, fallen wood.

The Sun carefully measured the distance in kilometres and found that its permit allowed it to harvest wood from a Tordon-injected area (see map from State Forests).

All around the area were dead trees, full of holes, where the Tordon had been placed.

Not much was ‘fallen’ except a few branches but whole trunks were found which had been previously felled and left on the forest floor.

The only sign in sight said ‘Collecting firewood in State Forests without a permit is prohibited’.

When attempts to contact Mr Pickering were made on Tuesday, to enable a series of questions to be put to him on this issue, the State Forests’ office at Narooma informed the Sun Mr Pickering was ‘involved in an all-day meeting’.

Information has come to light that Tordon DSH is a step removed from ‘Agent Orange’ – ‘its chemical-cousin’.
Manufacturer’s instructions, according to State Forests, say it is not advisable to burn timber injected with Tardon in an open fireplace.

Tordon DSH contains chlorinated organic compounds, a family of substances with the potential to form dioxins and furans on combustion at temperatures below 1200C.

According to Sydney University’s Dr John Pollack, ‘All chlorinated hydrocarbons, when combusted at temperatures below about 1200C, will likely produce dioxins, although the quantities produced are difficult to predict’.

He reports, “Surfactants are added to herbicides, to aid penetration and spreading of the active components.

‘It is unknown what relevance this has to human exposure, since the behaviour of the surfactant in humans has not been studied.”

Among questions that demand answers are:- Who therefore is liable – State Forests for issuing permits in a Tordon-injected area? – The person with a permit, ignorant of Tordon and its effects and looking at a large tract of dead wood just waiting to be cut? – The person with a permit who cuts up the trees lying on the ground, believing them to be ‘fallen’?

Under Scrutiny

The appointment of scrutineers to count the community survey returns regarding a legal challenge against the charcoal plant is under scrutiny.

A resolution was put before Council on Tuesday, that the General Manager, Jim Levy be given delegated authority to appoint an independent scrutineer. This was done in response to a letter from the Charcoalition asking for an independent person to fill this role.

The matter engendered much discussion. While most councillors had no problem with this action, it was felt that it would put Mr Levy between a rock and a hard place. “No matter what Jim does, he will be seen by some to be wrong,” said Cr Smellin. In order to correct this, the motion was amended to ask the General Manager to approach the Electoral Commission and the Australian Community Disputes Commission for advice or for the name of a totally independent scrutineer.

Mr Levy agreed with council’s amended resolution although he later indicated that his choice was to have 4 local scrutineers – 2 from the pro plant side and 2 from the anti.

Jones Praises Brett’s Cause

Talk-back heavyweight, 2GB broadcaster, Alan Jones has shown continuing praise and support toward Sun reporter Brett Mason and his bid to clear his name against, what New South Wales Opposition Leader, John Brogden, described as a “witch hunt by the Premier.”

In a series of letters to Brett, Mr Jones congratulated Brett on his efforts to clear his name against claims by New South Wales Premier, Bob Carr that Brett lied about an interview he conducted with him at a fire-fighters parade.

Mr Jones interviewed Brett live on 2GB and has maintained written contact with Brett, calling him “a good man” and telling Brett to “keep his chin up and get on with his study.”‘

After hearing Mr Jones’ interview, NSW Opposition Leader, John Brogden slammed Mr Carr for denying the interview took place when statutory declarations and witness statements had been received supporting the contents of the article. Mr Brogden described Mr Carr’s handling of the situation, and refusal to apologise as “an indictment on his fitness to hold the office of Premier.”

Mr Jones has told Brett not to worry about Mr Carr’s refusal to apologise, saying “sometimes to impossible is not able to be achieved’ and that “I think you have won back the trust and support of your community in bucket loads.

“Alan has been a wonderful person through this troubling time and was the light at the end of the tunnel in some of my darkest hours, especially when Mr Carr told other media sources I had not spoken with him,” Brett said. “‘Alan has helped show our local community that the interview I reported was correct, and that I have several written statements confirming the article was correct, including a comprehensive Statutory Declaration,” Brett said.

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