Australia — Further community consultation about WWII Columboola chemical munitions destruction

Sen­a­tor David Feeney, Par­lia­men­tary Sec­re­tary for Defence, today announced that the destruc­tion of old World War II chem­i­cal muni­tions found at Colum­boola in Queens­land in 2009 is sched­uled to occur next month.
“Pri­or to com­menc­ing the work, Defence will hold a sec­ond round of con­sul­ta­tions to inform the com­mu­ni­ty about the muni­tions destruc­tion and removal process being under­tak­en on the site,” Sen­a­tor Feeney said.

He said the most recent meet­ings, at Came­by, fol­low sim­i­lar con­sul­ta­tions in Chin­chilla and Miles in Novem­ber 2010.

“It’s impor­tant that the local com­mu­ni­ty is kept ful­ly informed of the work Defence is doing to safe­ly destroy the muni­tions, and ensure no oth­ers remain buried on the site,” Sen­a­tor Feeney said.

Colum­boola was a for­mer Unit­ed States WWII ammu­ni­tion depot and demo­li­tions range. To date, more than 140 con­firmed old chem­i­cal muni­tions con­tain­ing mus­tard agent have been exca­vat­ed. This is the largest find of this kind ever made in Aus­tralia. The US pro­vid­ed mil­i­tary experts to assist in the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and test­ing of these muni­tions, which con­firmed the pres­ence of mus­tard agent.

In their cur­rent state, spe­cial­ist advice is that the muni­tions do not pose a risk to the pub­lic. The risk from mus­tard agent is only to those who come in direct con­tact with the muni­tions and who are not wear­ing the required pro­tec­tive equip­ment.

Defence will man­age the destruc­tion of these old chem­i­cal weapons on behalf of the Gov­ern­ment of Aus­tralia, in accor­dance with Australia’s oblig­a­tions under the inter­na­tion­al Chem­i­cal Weapons Con­ven­tion. To ensure the safe dis­pos­al of these old muni­tions, spe­cial­ist equip­ment and expert tech­ni­cians have been con­tract­ed to under­take the destruc­tion work.

In accor­dance with the stan­dard process­es of the Chem­i­cal Weapon Con­ven­tion, a team from the Organ­i­sa­tion for the Pro­hi­bi­tion of Chem­i­cal Weapons (OPCW) con­duct­ed an inspec­tion of muni­tions at the site in late Sep­tem­ber. Plans for the destruc­tion of the muni­tions are weath­er depen­dent.

Fur­ther infor­ma­tion about the project can be found at www.defence.gov.au/id/columboola/fact_sheets.htm

Press release
Min­is­te­r­i­al Sup­port and Pub­lic Affairs,
Depart­ment of Defence,
Can­ber­ra, Aus­tralia

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