Channel NewsAsia

French minister opposes Australian firm's plan to ship waste

French Ecology Minister Segolene Royal on Friday voiced opposition to a proposal by Australian chemical giant Orica to ship highly toxic waste to France for incineration.

PARIS: French Ecology Minister Segolene Royal on Friday voiced opposition to a proposal by Australian chemical giant Orica to ship highly toxic waste to France for incineration.

"The transport of dangerous waste ... is an environmental aberration," said Royal, adding that she had instructed the top local official of the Isere region, where Orica wants to destroy the waste, to turn down the request.

Royal said she was against the proposal because of fears of possible marine pollution if something happened to the ship transporting the hexachlorobenzene (HCB) and added that such waste "should be treated near their source of production."

Orica has applied for permission from the French government to send 9,000 tonnes of HCB to the southeastern town of Salaise-sur-Sanne for incineration in a bid to end a long-running saga on disposing it.

The company has 15,000 tonnes of HCB -- a solvent manufacturing by-product and suspected human carcinogen -- stored at Botany in Sydney's south and has been trying to get rid of it for years.

Australia has no disposal facilities and a previous plan to ship some of the waste, produced between 1963 and 1991, to Denmark fell through in 2010 when the Danish government reneged on the deal after protests by Greenpeace.

There were similar protests in 2007 when Orica attempted to export it to Germany.

French environmentalists have opposed the move, Orica's third attempt to ship the carcinogenic pollutant banned in Europe since 1981.

Tweet photos, videos and updates on this story to  @channelnewsasia