Labor calls for Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act

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The NSW Labor Opposition is calling for an Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act – to prevent a repeat of the Orica incident where the O'Farrell Government failed to inform Stockton residents of a chemical leak for 54 hours.

"The O'Farrell Government is not going far enough to protect NSW communities from a repeat of its abysmal mishandling of the Orica chemical leak," Opposition Leader John Robertson said.

An Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act would enshrine in law: The community's right to know about the amount and type of toxic chemicals being used at facilities near residential neighbourhoods; and The creation of local emergency planning committees, with the local community, fire brigade, police, HAZMAT and health representatives involved in the writing of toxic leak emergency plans.

"The O'Farrell Government should have informed the Stockton community as soon as it knew about the health risks following the Stockton chemical leak," Mr Robertson said.

"The Government even barred an inquiry from investigating its failure to inform residents for 54 hours in an attempt to protect besieged Environment Minister, Robyn Parker.

"In addition to immediately informing the public of toxic chemical leaks, the O'Farrell Government needs to enshrine the community's 'right to know' in legislation."

"Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Acts already exist in the United States," Shadow Environment Minister, Luke Foley said.

"Currently, emergency plans for toxic leaks are written by the companies themselves – we need to involve local communities, police, fire brigades and health experts in this process to prevent a repeat of the Orica incident.

"Under Labor's proposal, local emergency planning committees would notify the public about what toxic chemicals are used on each site and provide information about hazardous chemicals and what to do if there is a chemical leak.

"The Stockton community was let down by the mismanagement of the Orica chemical leak – an Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act will help ensure community safety is not put at risk by the O'Farrell Government again."