Chemical drums remain

RELATED COVERAGE: Haunting legacy of Agent Orange

A Morwell Vietnam war veteran is angered by authorities who he said have taken too long to remove dozens of drums, believed to contain a harmful chemical known as Agent Orange, from their burial ground near Yarram.

In mid-2012 the Yarram Standard reported that drums possibly containing Agent Orange had been buried near the Yarram Golf Club, and Colin Bermingham said the Department of Environment and Primary Industries and the Environment Protection Authority should have removed the drums by now.

Mr Bermingham said after inspecting the site, he took a proactive role to pressure authorities to remove the waste, sending information about the issue to veteran support groups Australia-wide.

“It sent shivers up my spine to stand there and think this was the very stuff we sprayed in Vietnam back in 1967 and ’68 at Nui Dat,” Mr Bermingham said.

“It has caused many sicknesses to veterans, who have since died… and the surviving families would know what I am talking about.

“I think (the authorities) are hoping it just goes away and nothing will happen.

“I’d hate to think that there’s anyone that goes near the stuff, and what it could do to them, and to the next generation.”

However, DEPI program manager Daniel Mainville said the department had made “good progress” on an assessment of potential risks associated with the disposal of the drums, which the authority claims are empty.

“Groundwater from a bore at the Yarram Golf Club was tested in 2010 and found to be free from agricultural chemical contamination,” Dr Mainville said.

“DEPI is working closely with the EPA to assess the current and future risks from the buried drums.