Denmark halts imports of Australian waste: report


Denmark’s decision to cancel imports of hazardous chemical waste from Australia has been called “unfortunate” by the Gillard government, according to a report in The Australian.

The decision was first made in August, but Denmark postponed its implementation until this month.

The impact is now being felt, as pressure from Denmark’s opposition parties pressured its government to cancel shipments of 6,100 tonnes of highly toxic hexachlorobenzene (HCB) due to arrive from Australia, the report said.

Australia sought international destinations to store its chemical waste because of a lack of domestic capability to safely dispose of hazardous material. Much of the waste had been stored by Australian explosive company Orica Ltd at its Botany Bay facility in Sydney.

HCB is a particularly sensitive hazardous waste. Created as a by-product of solvents made between 1964 and 1991, HCB is globally banned and therefore difficult now to dispose of.

Australian Environment Minister Tony Burke called Denmark’s decision unfortunate, and said the government would review its options while hoping the issue sparks an international debate on how to safely dispose of such hazardous materials, the report said.