Levels of fluoride dust from a brick factory at Craigieburn and the Alcoa aluminium smelting plant near Portland are proving fatal to kangaroos. DSE was informed of the problem in 2008 and the EPA was told in 2005, but signs of fluoride-related symptoms in kangaroos were noted as early as 2001. We know we cannot rely on the DSE's wildlife statistics and most of us have heard that the EPA is a toothless tiger, but how many of us would have thought there was enough fluoride dust out there to kill herds of kangaroos? Where does that put humans, especially children?
Our kangaroos are dying of fluoride poisoning in Victoria
Deborah Gough's article, "Roos victims of factory fluoride," February 21, 2010 The Age: reveals a nightmare. The article merits ongoing discussion so that the information does not perish with the fish and chips wrapping.
If, like me, you were confident that Australian governments were able to judge safe levels of fluoride in water, you may wish to review your opinion now. Although the Age article is about levels of fluoride dust from brick factories and the Alcoa aluminium smelting plant near Portland, causing deaths in wildlife - and you may not be wildlife - the level of incompetence in environmental 'regulation' and waste 'management' here seems quite alarming. The degree of poisoning is awful. Why would anyone believe that with such incompetence and callousness prevailing in Victorian government and business that humans in Victoria were safe?
Biggest fluoride polluters in Victoria
According to The Age in Victoria:
The Alcoa smelter in Portland emits 120 tonnes of fluoride dust a year
Austral Bricks in Craigieburn emits 60 tonnes a year
Melbourne Water emits more fluoride than any other agent overall.
The Age gives its source as the .
Responding to inquiries about the fluoride poison-related deaths of many kangaroos in the Portland and Craigieburn areas,
"EPA director of environmental services Bruce Dawson denied the authority had been slow to reduce maximum emission levels. He said that while the levels were safe for humans, it was now clear they were too high for some animals and a new level was likely."
According to this Age article, Wildlife Victoria had told the Department of Sustainability about the problem of fluoride emissions and kangaroos in 2008! The EPA had been told about it in 2005. Signs of fluoride-related poisoning in kangaroos were noted as early as 2001.
Sounds like the Department of Sustainability ignored this alert too, or, even worse, culled and disposed of the signs or allowed someone else to do so.
And, if it is only clear now to the EPA that the levels were too high for wildlife, why would we have confidence that the levels were okay for humans, particularly babies, and particularly over time?
The situation for the kangaroos seems so severe that I cannot find words to say how it makes me think of my government and the industries emitting these toxins. If people have knowingly allowed this to happen then they are inhuman.
"Scores of starving and pain-ridden kangaroos have been culled after developing tooth and bone deformities from breathing and ingesting fluoride emissions. Many more are believed to be suffering from growths that will kill them. The affected kangaroos are living near the Alcoa aluminium smelter in Portland, in the state's south-west, and the Austral Bricks factory at Craigieburn."
Mr Dawson (EPA Director of Environmental Services) said the EPA had demanded that Austral ''significantly reduce'' its fluoride emissions by building new facilities and upgrading technologies, but neither it nor Alcoa were 'in breach' of regulations. Obviously the regulations are hopeless.
Dawson said the levels were safe for humans.
There is actually a lot of doubt about what constitutes safe levels of fluoride over time and it is hard to have faith in such pronouncements, especially for babies and children, when authorities in Melbourne were able to ignore or not able to understand that the fluoride levels were so dangerous as to be causing tooth deformities in kangaroos so that they were starving and moved painfully.
"Autopsies performed at Melbourne University on 49 kangaroos culled at Alcoa on a single day last year found all but one were suffering from fluorosis, which leads to excessive bone growths, or lesions, on joints in the paws, ankles and calves. It can also cause tooth and jaw deformities that hinder eating and foraging."
Alcoa has been in the business of managing fluoride for a long time. How come it isn't aware of its toxicity in all conditions by now?
And, apparently culling of the kangaroos has been going on quietly, presumably with government permission.
The Sunday Age has been told more than 200 ill kangaroos living near both affected sites have been culled in recent years, but this figure could not be confirmed
This time the culling may have prevented the alarm being raised sooner. The recent is evidence that the Department of Sustainability has been issuing licenses to cull kangaroos and other wildlife without any reliable wildlife statistics. Have ill-advised kangaroo culls in the area also disguised what must be a high mortality rate in these animals from poisoning? In other words, is this another flow-on from the Victorian Government's failure to monitor the welfare and population dynamics of our wildlife?
Perhaps those 'nuts' recently were right after all. One certainly cannot ignore the fact that there is little evidence for fluoridation of water supplies and quite a bit contradicting its supposed benefits for teeth.
From this poisoning epidemic we should derive the lesson that our living environment, those species that share this world with us are like us. If they suffer, we are likely to suffer. If we ignore their suffering we may well be turning our backs on clear warnings about our own predicament.
Our predicament is not the poisoned environment alone, it is also our helplessness to treat our fellow creatures decently because of the wall of obscure regulations and power thrown up by our commercial-in-confidence-government. A society which allows other creatures to be dispossessed and herded into toxic land then culled and disposed of with no public outcry is depraved.