Government fails to alert residents to dangerous airborne chemical


The NSW Labor Opposition has slammed Environment Minister, Robyn Parker for failing to alert Stockton residents about the release of a highly dangerous chemical into the air surrounding their homes.

The Orica ammonium nitrate facility near Stockton released plumes of hexavalent chromium – the same dangerous chemical Erin Brockovich crusaded against – into the air on Monday.

Minister Parker chose not to release information about the dangerous chemical leak to nearby residents until late on Thursday – despite being informed on Tuesday morning.

"The O'Farrell Government has serious questions to answer – why weren't local residents informed about the release of a highly dangerous airborne chemical when the Government first knew on Tuesday morning?" Mr Foley said.

"The Environment Minister Robyn Parker deliberately sat on the information for 48 hours and until the end of the Parliamentary sitting before announcing this chemical leak had threatened public safety.

"Hexavalent chromium is a chemical that can cause skin irritations, respiratory problems and if the exposure is long term, potentially cancer.

"The Minister and her Government have sat on information warning of a public safety threat to 70 homes in the Hunter to avoid Parliamentary scrutiny.

"This is a serious and potentially life endangering decision by the O'Farrell Government and its departments.

"Local residents who have potentially been exposed to a highly dangerous airborne chemical have the right to know immediately.

"The Minister for the Environment, Robyn Parker must explain why she deliberately held back information warning Hunter residents of potential health implications following this dangerous chemical leak."