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OCA Spokesperson Says Beder Was Wrong
Letter from Dr. Kate Hughes, Ecology Programs Director, Special Advisor for Environment to the OCA Director General
Dr. Sharon Beder is highly misled in her negative assessment of the Olympic Coordination Authority's (OCA) Homebush Bay site cleanup and appears uninterested in gaining further knowledge that may provide opportunities to move on to a more informed position.
Dr. Beder has chosen to ignore the significant and beneficial leachate management system designed into the engineering waste mounds that are visible at the OCA site. The system evolved following experience with "tight landfill" which indicated the need for a more practical approach that accepts the reality of landfill leachate. Specifically, the system catches any contaminated water and transfers it to a treatment facility. Treatment at the Sydney Olympic site includes the managed breakdown of pollutants using natural processes (bioremediation).
Dr. Beder has also omitted any mention of OCA's enhanced remediation strategy which is designed to provide a positive and lasting legacy for the nature and human communities in the Sydney Basin and beyond. The legacy is primarily focused on improved protection of air, soil and water quality as well as improved community understanding of these processes. The mechanism for achieving this involves three inter-linked programs: a geographic information system site history for validation purposes, a biological sciences program to improve the predictability of environmental testing and a community education and development program.
Finally, Dr. Beder's assertion that I am responsible for carefully managed public relations events and that I have been co-opted by the OCA to greenwash the remediation program is just not true. After nearly two decades of campaign and advocacy work on hazardous chemical issues, I moved across to the government sector to do a job for the community. I was happy to do this because after study of the remediation program, I concluded that something really great had been done there, deserving recognition because it showed a new approach to solving land contamination issues.
I share Dr. Beder's concerns about cover-ups but only when they have foundation. I regret that she did not take up an invitation to our second community forum last year nor accept my offer to discuss her published views with our Environment Reference Group. I hope one day she does. As an opinion leader teaching at a university, she has a professional obligation to keep up with facts.