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AUSTRALIA: Rally asks pulp fact or pulp fiction

by Tim MartainThe Mercury
March 2nd, 2006

Describing the proposed Gunns Ltd pulp mill as "cutting edge" was farcical, a toxic chemicals expert said yesterday.

National Toxics Network Inc senior adviser Mariann Lloyd-Smith said the proposed mill was based on 60-year-old technology and accused Gunns of not being clear with the facts presented to the public.

Dr Lloyd-Smith addressed a Wilderness Society lunchtime rally in Hobart's Town Hall, with hundreds of people turning out to show their disapproval of the proposed mill in the Tamar Valley.

She said she was particularly annoyed by Gunns' insistence that the Elemental Chlorine Free (ECF) mill design was cutting edge, despite the technology having been around since 1947.

"And there is nothing in the literature to suggest the technology has change that much," she said.

ECF technology means the mill will not use chlorine gas to bleach its pulp but will use chlorine dioxide instead, which produces lower levels of toxic dioxins and furans.

But Dr Lloyd-Smith said Total Chlorine Free (TCF) technology, which produced no dioxins or furans, had been around since the 1990s.

"The Stockholm Convention puts the obligation on governments to minimise the production of dioxins wherever they can, with the ultimate goal of elimination," she said.

"So the clear onus is not to start processes that produce dioxins to start with."

Gunns spokeswoman Sarah Dent said the pulp mill would be based on the latest technology and a number of scientific reports noted the environmental advantages of ECF technology.

"We could not build a pulp mill based on old technology as we then would not meet the stringent guidelines imposed by the RPDC (Resource Planning and Development Commission)," she said.

Greens leader Peg Putt, who also addressed the rally, said the Greens were not opposed to the construction of a pulp mill in Tasmania, but the Gunns proposal was not good enough.

Timber Communities Australia co-ordinator Barry Chipman and CFMEU state secretary Scott McLean yesterday unveiled a statement signed by all 52 Labor and Liberal election candidates, pledging their full support for the pulp mill.

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