11 November 2015
An independent inquiry into the
use and storage of chemicals 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T by former Lands Department
employees in the Ballarat region has come to a close.
which was established in February this year, today handed its final report to
Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Water, Lisa Neville.
Greg Tweedly said a number of key findings emerged from the inquiry, relating
to chemical exposure, policy and practices, training of personnel, and health
estimated that weed sprayers working for the Department between 1965 and 1981
were exposed to more than double today's standard tolerably monthly intake – or
'TMI' - of a particular contaminant of 2,4,5-T, called TCDD," Mr Tweedly said.
Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) – a World Health Organization body – has
classified TCDD as 'carcinogenic to humans' since 1997 and 'possibly
carcinogenic to humans' since 1982.
said an epidemiological study of the Department's sprayers in the 1980s found
no abnormal incidence of cancer.
that was undertaken did not find an abnormal incidence of cancer amongst
sprayers," Mr Tweedly said.
found consensus throughout academic papers, since then, regarding a link
between exposure to TCDD and the incidence of soft tissue sarcomas and
found that the former Department had initiated a number of excellent research
pieces and reviews focused on workers' health and chemical safety, but the
findings and recommendations of these activities were largely not fully
implemented or shared.
most of the period we examined, safety messages were inconsistent and the
availability and uptake of personal protective equipment was poor," Mr Tweedly
training in the safe use of pesticides was introduced in the mid 1970s, but was
not always compulsory or suited to employees' training needs."
said the inquiry had yielded unexpectedly large volumes of information and
the course of the Inquiry, we collated and analysed more than 100,000 document
pages, conducted 76 interviews, and received 29 written submissions," Mr
"The community's contributions to the Inquiry
were vital to understanding the full picture of historic chemical use and
storage practices within the former department and I thank them for their
willingness to speak with us about this sensitive topic," Mr Tweedly said.
"I hope that
the report and its findings offer some answers to long-held questions."
said the Inquiry report is now with the Minister, for the Government's
consideration and response.