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MEDIA RELEASE Tuesday 26th July 2005

Control the lead industry! - 
The LEAD Group demands bans and Product Stewardship action

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"Despite a lot of industry talk about "sustainable development" and "product stewardship", lead poisoning and lead contamination will only be prevented when corporations and governments take action to manage this persistent accumulative toxic substance from the moment it is mined until forever" says UN Award-winning environmentalist Elizabeth O’Brien.

The US state of Maine last month introduced a dedicated tax (hypothecation) which takes 25 cents from the sale of every gallon of new (unleaded) paint for community education to prevent childhood lead poisoning [see http://archive.seacoastonline.com/2005news/06262005/maine/49553.htm ]. In Australia, the federal government has decided to create a National Environment Protection Measure (NEPM) on Product Stewardship that could include hypothecation. However, The LEAD Group is concerned that other NEPMs have taken years to develop and have incredibly lax timeframes for compliance.

‘Taxing lead from the moment that it is mined in order to put together a fund for lead management, education, information and clean-up of contamination from lead should be an essential part of any Product Stewardship measure’ says O’Brien. In her submission [see www.lead.org.au/submission_to_nsw_dipnr.html] last week on a proposed lead acid battery recycling plant in Wagga, NSW, O’Brien highlighted the estimated 1.1 million tonnes of lead in the form of lead acid batteries that are not recycled each year globally – almost one quarter of all batteries made per annum. The state of lead acid battery recycling in Australia is not much better. There are an estimated 20,000 tonnes per year of lead acid batteries not being recycled and perhaps 3,000 tonnes being illegally shipped to Asia for black market recycling.

The LEAD Group wants all the non-essential uses of lead in products banned. The federal government signed the OECD Declaration on Lead in 1996 [see www.lead.org.au/lanv7n4/L74-23.html ], and so O’Brien states that there is ‘no excuse to be still allowing the sale of leaded fishing sinkers, leaded industrial paints and leaded petrol in motor racing’. The LEAD Group is working with NICNAS (National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme) to ban lead in industrial paints in Australia and with the United Nations to ban leaded petrol globally see www.unep.org/pcfv  

"It wouldn’t take away too much profit from the lead industry or detract too much from the government royalties from lead mining if there is a dedicated fund from a product stewardship tax, to support community lead management information services such as the Global Lead Advice and Support Service which has answered now 45,000 enquiries on lead management from 60 countries."
Contact: Elizabeth O’Brien ph (02) 9716 0014. ###

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