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Keep chemicals safe during disasters

Published: 20-02-2017

Devastating climate events nationwide have resulted in renewed calls for agricultural and veterinary chemical users to dispose of their waste safely, as rural landowners face a massive cleanup.

Fires in central NSW and flooding of horticultural regions in southern WA and the NT have prompted Agsafe to remind agvet chemical retailers to ensure customers were aware of their responsibilities.

Agsafe is an industry-led agvet chemical product stewardship organisation, which oversees three programs: Accreditation and Training, drumMUSTER and ChemClear, for the safe storage, sale and distribution of chemicals and disposal of waste and containers.

Agsafe’s NSW consultant, Phil Tucker, said the key issue for retailers was to ensure chemical containers that left the warehouse were in good order and customers were getting sound advice on safe storage of their products during disasters.

“Even if containers aren’t destroyed by fire, the labels can burn off and the quality of the product compromised. When registering these products with the Chemclear program, they are considered ‘unknown chemicals’ and as such would incur a collection levy,” he said.

Mr Tucker reminded farmers that it was good practice to ensure chemical inventories were up-to-date, labels intact and storage sheds clear of combustibles.

“After fire, people need to check what’s recoverable, handle their chemicals carefully and always use drumMUSTER regularly so they don’t have a stockpile of containers that can feed a fire,” he said.

Fire crews in the Warrumbungle shire are continuing to fight flare-ups and a council recovery centre will be tasked with providing residents with a collection point for fire-damaged materials.

Widespread flooding in grape and wheat belt regions of southern WA have disrupted farmers’ spraying operations to control weeds and pests that have been rampant during the wet pre-sowing season.

Agsafe’s WA consultant Graeme Passmore said although farm outbuildings were mostly spared from damage, farmers should continue to be alert.

“Farmers are using more chemicals because the rain has caused weeds to grow quickly, so it’s easy for drums to mount up on farms … always have a strategy for waste management so you’re compliant with QA responsibilities,” Mr Passmore said.

Agsafe’s ChemClear and drumMUSTER programs help farmers keep lands clear of unregistered chemicals.

Empty, clean containers displaying the drumMUSTER logo are eligible for free recycling and Agsafe recommends growers purchase their agvet chemicals from suppliers who stock products with the logo on the container or chemical label.

Unwanted chemical from containers displaying the drumMUSTER logo are eligible for free collection by ChemClear and are known as Group 1 chemicals.

Agvet chemical containers without the logo or are unlabelled, expired, mixed or from non-participating manufacturers, are designated Group 2 products, incurring a fee for disposal. A quote will be provided when booking Group 2 chemicals.

Registrations are underway for a Queensland ChemClear collection in June.

For interviews contact:

Alison Carmichael, Agsafe General Manager, phone: 02 6206 6888

Phil Tucker, NSW consultant, phone: 0427 925 274

Graeme Passmore, WA consultant, phone: 0429 933 307

20 February, 2017