Orica on track for guidance
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January 31 2013, 2:33PM
Mr Smith also said on Thursday that it would be up to the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to determine if any off-site testing was needed at Orica's polluted former manufacturing site at Port Botany.
Botany Bay mother Chantal Snell flew to Melbourne on Thursday to deliver to Orica a petition containing nearly 8,500 signatures demanding independent testing of mercury levels at the former plant site.
Ms Snell told reporters that she and others wanted independent off-site testing of mercury levels and not just a review of historical data on mercury emissions from the site.
Mr Smith said Orica had agreed to fund an EPA investigation of mercury levels at the Point Botany site.
"We've agreed to fund that project at looking at whether there is any mercury off-site," Mr Smith said.
"We've agreed that the (NSW) government will lead this, we will fund it, and it's basically a review of all the data and leading up to a recommendation on the second step.
"I don't know what that second step will be as a recommendation.
"We're not precluding anything at this stage."
Ms Snell told reporters she wanted independent testing of her community to ensure that mercury contamination was not posing a health risk.
"I'm afraid that mercury has spread from the plant in Botany into our community to the point that it poses a risk to my children and my community," she said.
"We're asking Orica to fund independent testing - genuinely independent testing - that's supported by the community to ensure that there isn't mercury in our community posing risks to our health.
"We are concerned, we are frightened for our health, frightened for our kids's health and frightened that we may be unwittingly putting them at risk."
Ms Snell said if the EPA was only to review historical data on mercury emissions at the Botany site, that would be "insufficient".
"We need to know what's in our community now, not what was potentially in our community then," she said.