Tasmanian Times


Support Alison Bleaney to clean up our water


Supporters of Dr Alison Bleaney, campaigner against over-use of pesticides and for clean, healthy water, have a Facebook page well and truly up and running. If you want to protect Tasmanian water catchments – the ones we all source our drinking water from – then we need to avoid large acreage, fast-rotation toxic monoculture eucalypt plantations -dependant on pesticides – in our upper and mid water catchments. The vast majority are being grown only as feed for a pulp mill. There is no alternative plan for these plantations – from Gunns or our Government. Please think about sending this letter – or your own version – to ‘ANZGroupCEO@anz.com’; ‘Micha…el.Smith@anz.com’; ‘gerard.brown@anz.com’ (see link on facebook page). The time to act is now.

Read more on Facebook HERE

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  1. J A Stevenson

    December 23, 2011 at 11:44 am

    Dr Barry Tomkin I do apologise for attacking your use of the term of Dr on this particular thread, where the use of chemicals were under discussion but using the term on a thread to describe yourself as Dr when forestry topics are raised would lead readers to assume that you knew something about the subject under discussion.

    Your comment Re: # 20 ”Problem is, Alison, your idea of best practice would cripple plantation forestry in Australia, or require vastly more area to produce the same amount of structural (mainly pine).” Proves you know very little about forestry and growing good quality timber in particular.

    Until the maximum clean stem length is obtained all the side branch growth is wasted. In the early years this could be as much as over 50% of growth or more. By repeated thinning over the years pine would first produce much pulpwood. Later a mixture of pulp and small saw logs followed by repeated thinning of saw logs for many years.

    From a pesticide sellers point of view this would not be wanted because on short rotation crops chemical demand is regular, every 15 years or every 30 years guaranteed.

    I repeat the term doctor should be applied to people who heal, perhaps even witch doctors if their if healing intentions are honourable and effective. The term Dr has been high jacked to cover any subject where a certain standard in that subject has been obtained, no matter how obscure.

    When writing on subjects outside your expertise you should not post yourself as Dr as it gives we ignorant people the impression that you are knowledgeable in that subject, only to later realise that this is not the case.

    I do apologise to all who may have taken offence undeservedly, it was not my intention.

    Merry Christmas.

  2. Dr Barry Tomkins

    December 22, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    Re#23: ‘The term Doctor should be applied to people who heal, not to people who devise more acute poisons’.

    Lindsay, this statement should not have been allowed. The term Dr applied to GP’s is more of an Honorarium, since most have a BS and MB and not a Doctorate. In fact of course, with more specialized study, some go on to be specialists titled Mr, and a few go on to Doctor of Medicine, and are truly entitled to be called Dr!

    Vets (like David Obendorf) generally call themselves Dr, but JAS’s statement is an insult to the thousands of people who have carried out deep, years long research into the whole range of tertiary subjects and who have presented original Ph D theses.

    I do not ‘devise more acute poisons’, and where is the evidence for being ‘more acute’? In fact chemical development is always aimed at better targeted treatments, whether it be in medicine, industry or pesticide use.

    The process of educating JAS continues—-

    Dr Barry Tomkins

  3. J A Stevenson

    December 22, 2011 at 11:56 am

    Barry Tomkins # 20 Vastly more timber would be produced from the same area of land if longer or Continues Cover Forestry practices were used. Unfortunately this can not be done because it requires knowledgeable management to carry out, someyhing completely lost to the Australia forestry industry. The old thinning skills have gone to be replaced by machines which anyone who can drive a car and learnt and count up to five can do when thinning by numbers of taking out so many rows and leaving so many. What forestry skill is required?

  4. J A Stevenson

    December 22, 2011 at 11:35 am

    Dr Barry Tomkins # 17. I may lack a wider, longer term Australian experience but nothing I have seen convinces me that I have anything to learn in Australia regarding forestry and growing quality timber. There are knowledgeable and caring people who are belittled or ignored such as Dr Alison Bleaney, Peter Andrews, Farm Forestry Staff and some of whom contribute to TT, to be attacked for attempting to change the destruction they see taking place all around by people who claim to be forestry experts or foresters. You I understand are a chemist who’s whole career seems built and sustained on short rotation forestry policies.
    I do not call myself a forester. In my last post I was a head forester on an estate for 13 years, retiring aged 67 therefore I can no longer call myself anything but retired.
    The term Doctor should be applied to people who heal, not to people who devise more acute poisons

  5. J A Stevenson

    December 22, 2011 at 11:03 am

    Re: # 15 Mark Poynter. You persist in claiming that the ills of water systems are the result of agricultural usage and forestry does not figure very highly as a cause.
    One can not include all Tasmanian agriculture in this argument. Agricultural spraying is largely confined to arable crops, vegetables and orchards. Very small amounts of this type of crop is grown in Tasmania water catchment areas. The type of land on which these new plantations have been established was marginal land and at the time most were sold for plantations, prices for wool and mutton were at there lowest and the Ponzi plantation schemes were at their peak.
    How much of the areas of the Georges catchment area and the St Patrick’s catchment area are of high quality, intensive agricultural, what intensive spraying is done on grazing land.

  6. Alison Bleaney

    December 21, 2011 at 11:11 pm

    I’ll leave you to read CAPIM’s research – first hand information is often more useful and on that I’m sure you will agree.
    As to ‘best practice’; perhaps this term often bandied around by governments, AgVet chemical companies and forestry companies to name but a few, is well to be removed. No-one in the afore mentioned groups either define or attempt to stick to even the loosest definition. Be gone ‘best practice’, be gone!
    Dr Alison Bleaney

  7. Dr Barry Tomkins

    December 21, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    Re#19: Problem is, Alison, your idea of best practice would cripple plantation forestry in Australia, or require vastly more area to produce the same amount of structural (mainly pine). Actually you do not define best practice, and furthermore, a lot of your so-called evidence against the triazines is questionable.

    As I have repeatedly noted, use of agrichemicals in any situation, not just a minor user such as forestry, is based on risk management (as is the practice of medicine). As for sediments in rivers, the Derwent is a classic case, and not from pesticides.

    Also, how toxic is 1000 times more toxic? Such a statement is meaningless unless the base is defined! – or data provided that supports such an open-ended statement.

    Dr Barry Tomkins

  8. Alison Bleaney

    December 21, 2011 at 9:20 am

    If one says something often enough- then, it must be so!
    The risk of atrazine at 20ppb in drinking water for humans and other mammals and water users such as frogs is not negligible, especially when the triazine is in combination with a wetting agent, a nitrate fertiliser, an other pesticide and so on as is found in the ‘real world’, otherwise known as our catchments.
    Our catchments do not need to be polluted any further and brought down to the lowest common denominator. Just because other places have bad practices does not justify similar practices here in Tasmania.
    And CAPIM in Victoria are showing 1000 times more toxicity in river water sediments compared to grab water samples – from the legacy of the combination of toxic chemicals used historically and presently in catchments. Why would we not be benefiting from their research and findings Barry, and putting ‘best practice’ into action?
    Dr Alison Bleaney

  9. Dr Barry Tomkins

    December 20, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    To ‘stir the possum’ a bit more, there has been a recent (October) change to the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines. The GLV (Guideline Value) and the HLV (Health Level Value) have been dispensed with, and replaced by a single value, called simply the Guideline.

    Getting rid of the GLV made a lot of sense, since it was the minimum detectable level, and that was often changing as better methods of detection were developed.

    My point is – and it should extract some vehement response – that there is therefore no justification for a zero tolerance approach. I have always regarded ‘zero tolerance’ as a political/sociological concept without proper scientific credentials.

    For example, take the much ‘beloved’ (by Dr Bleaney) topic of atrazine. As a prelude, let me remind you that in the first 5 years of water testing in Tasmania, there were only 3 measurable detections compared to over 150 for MCPA, but I digress. The new Guideline for atrazine is 20 ppb or 20 microgram per litre. That is less than the old HLV. The chemical is excreted by mammals within 72 hours of ingestion, and to suggest that at those levels and at that rate of excretion it is responsible for human health problems is at best, fanciful.

    So, to repeat, it is my contention that zero tolerance is nonsensical. It doesn’t apply to particulate matter in factory chimney emissions such as power stations, nor to waste water discharge in many industrial situations, so why, when the risk is non-existent, should it apply to pesticides. Anything below the Guideline should not incur penalties by EPA’s or other instrumentalities. If the science has demonstrated that there is a vanishingly small risk below the Guideline, that should be acceptable, unless in time further definitive evidence shows otherwise.

    Dr Barry Tomkins

  10. Dr Barry Tomkins

    December 20, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    Not in response to any particular comment above, but some of the respondents on this thread seem to be ignorant of conditions elsewhere in Australia. For example, there is, from my observation, a reluctance to admit, or an ignorance of, the entirely similar environments to Tasmania, of the Strzleckis and the Otways in Victoria, and indeed the short run streams right up the east coast to northern NSW, where there is significant plantation activity. Tasmania is not unique. I don’t know about MCPA detections on the mainland. I do know that for example, it was years after plantation forestry in Victoria (in pine) began testing for atrazine in run-off water, the APVMA finally demanded that there be testing by the major user – tt-canola.

    #16 – Tasmania is NOT unique – a ridiculous proposition. Geelong’s main source of water is from the Otways (the Barwon etc) and there is significant plantation establishment there. Midway, for example, have been gradually liquidating the former Smorgon’s pine plantations and replanting with Eucalyptus nitens – very similar environment to Tasmania. Similarly in the Strzleckis in Gippsland where in the more elevated, colder areas, nitens is preferred to E. globulus.

    Some correspondents on this site seem to me to suffer from an isolationist island mentality. They are unable to see the bigger picture. Some, like J A Stevenson, simply lack a wider, longer term Australian experience, but then, given his apparent age and UK background that is at least excusable to a point. Mind you, he may not be that much older than myself!

    Dr Barry Tomkins

  11. J A Stevenson

    December 20, 2011 at 9:01 pm

    Dr Barry Tomkins. Is not MCPA found in mainland streams? What makes Tasmania pretty unique is that there is no need to have any spraying in drinking water catchment areas. Many of the mainland catchment areas are strictly controlled as to what activities can be carried out.

    The need for spraying anywhere would be negligible if timber was being grown instead of fibre. Pine for timber on 30 year rotations only produces dunnage wood, not construction timbers.

    Forests are high profile areas and an helicopter flying backwards and forwards over trees can only be doing one thing, usually at much greater heights than crop spraying.

  12. Mark Poynter

    December 20, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    #12 JAS

    ” …. unfortunately Tasmanian drinking catchment areas are usually above the main agricultural regions and not expected to suffer the same pollution problems as those on the Murray, Darling River systems you are familiar with …”

    I don’t think so. How do you explain the Georges River catchment where St Helens gets its water – it has only 4% of its area under plantation, with the rest a mixture of dairy and other farming, and native forest.

    Or the St Patricks River catchment which I presume is still Launceston’s water supply drawn from below Nunamara. It also has a mix of plantation, agriculture, and native forest.

    I would think most water supply would be drawn from mixed use catchments, and as Barry has said, almost all pesticide use will be on the agricultural component.

    Editor’s note: Edited to comply with the TT code: please see tone section http://oldtt.pixelkey.biz/index.php/pages/legalbits An additional note: sarcasm towards other readers usually only results in a thread going off topic. Please stick to the points being discussed on the thread.

  13. Dr Barry Tomkins

    December 20, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Re #12: JAS, there are, apparently up to 200 tree pests and diseases that if introduced to Australia could destroy not only plantations but native forest as well. Asian Gypsy Moth is often cited as just one potentially devastating pest.

    As to the other blogs, no-one has addressed the issue of the frequent detections of MCPA in Tassie streams. The preference is always to blame forestry.

    Dr Barry Tomkins

  14. john hayward

    December 20, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    While it can’t be denied that agricultural chemicals are recklessly used here, it is equally apparent that much of the regulatory laxness stems from the political influence of big loggers on a degenerate political culture.

    Have a look at the CV of the APVMA’s PR Officer. Check his pronouncements on atrazine and other POPs with those of the EU.

    John Hayward

  15. J A Stevenson

    December 20, 2011 at 11:39 am

    Dr Barry Tomkins, Everything is catchment, unfortunately Tasmanian drinking catchment areas are usually above the main agricultural regions and not expected to suffer the same pollution problems as those on the Murray, Darling River systems you are familiar with, wherefore the treatment works are no doubt rudimentary compared to treatments works of the mainland.
    The expansion of eucalyptus plantations again is on the higher and marginal agricultural land. Cheaply bought
    Establishment of trees being grown on 10 to 15 year rotations is not forestry in any shape or form although they are planting trees. Just another farming crop.
    I fail understand the 30 year rotation for pine unless it is for supply to Norske Skog with pulpwood. Timber trees will only just be beginning to lay down decent clear timber. What is the average bhqg of these young trees and ring count per 25mm.
    Admitted pines do not require much pesticide treatment as of now but what would happen if the Pine Looper Moth, Bupalus piniaria should find its way here?

  16. Alison Bleaney

    December 20, 2011 at 11:26 am

    Of interest- 5 ml of alphacypermethrin will take out all aquatic life in an olympic size swimming pool.
    Also, there are many articles exposing the long term adverse effects of pyrethroids held in river and estuarine sediments, put there from drift and run-off from sprayed crops into rivers.
    And as DPIPWE has stated – essentially all water catchments in Tasmania are drinking water catchments.
    Dr Alison Bleaney

  17. Alison Bleaney

    December 20, 2011 at 2:25 am

    Well well- most samples taken above all agriculture and below plantations – check our records as this was and is not the case
    And for your interest – 7.5 litres of insecticide- synthetic pyrethroid – (alpha-cypermethrin) was sprayed on 80 HA at the top of the George River catchment last week – trees were approx 7 years old and not a leaf to be seen; and in the 2 weeks before – pre-emergent herbicides applied to a large plantation in the South George. And I agree that agriculture, Local Councils, golf courses should not pollute our waterways with pesticides and I tell them so. However they are not building pulp mills and planting fast rotation eucalypt plantations to feed the mill with the resultant problems; this what I was addressing in this latest article. Feel free to make your case with other pesticide users- I will support you.
    Dr Alison Bleaney

  18. Valleywatcher

    December 20, 2011 at 12:37 am

    #6 well well. We grow all our own food with no herbicides or pesticides with plenty of extra to share – yields are fantastic – the secret is to have diversity. There are always problems when you grow vast acreages of just one thing – you will always have pest problems.

    Barry – #7 – We’ll have to agree to disagree “old chap” – maybe everything is a catchment, but not all catchments are equal, “old chap”. Your insecticides show up regularly when they bother to test our water for them and I personally don’t like to drink them. You may. Good luck with that!

  19. Pete Godfrey

    December 19, 2011 at 11:41 pm

    Barry Tomkins I agree with you on the issue of agricultural chemicals, not sure about the 2% of Australian Plantations being sprayed each year with insecticides. We have a lot of problems here with Eucalypt Beetle and a lot of plantations in close proximity to waterways and population centres.
    We are unfortunate in Tasmania that we have no protected catchments such as exist on the Big Island for town and city water supplies.
    Therefore it is actually very important to those of us who want to drink clean fresh water without contamination to protect our waterways from Agricultural and Forestry Chemicals.
    Actually we are supposed to be guaranteed such clean water under the Waterworks Clauses Act of 1952
    This is an extract of the above Act.
    Section 18.3 Definition of Pure and Wholesome water.
    “Pure and Wholesome means, clean, free from obvious suspended matter and free from toxic substances and pathogenic organisms in amounts harmful to humans”
    Our water supplies have regularly failed this test and as such the government are in breach of the law.

  20. Dr Barry Tomkins

    December 19, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    Re #5: Everything is catchment, old chap, and there is no need to shout! And I doubt that ‘the vast majority’ is accurate, also, because the expansion of eucalypt plantations was more often on ex-pasture. Further, once the plantations are established, there is no routine application of pesticides, as I have explained many times before. 3 applications of herbicides, the first knockdown only, in the first 2 years, then no herbicides for the rest if the rotation, be it 10-15 years for eucalypts or 30 years for pine. On an as-needed basis, in eucalypts, the occasional need to apply an insecticide, usually alpha-cypermethrin, which is incredibly soil fast if it does get washed off foliage. Only about 2% of Australia’s eucalypt plantation are sprayed annually for insects. All very basic, but if you prefer that your beliefs over-ride logic, that is your problem.

    Dr Barry Tomkins

  21. well well

    December 19, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    Valleywatcher, A number of the samples taken for the now infamous Australian Story were, in fact, taken directly below a dairy farm (this was, of course, not the impression you got when you watched it). No pesticides or herbicides = substantially reduced yields (some city folks may disagree but I suspect they don’t know what they are talking about) = the need to clear a whole lot more land to produce the same amount of food and fibre (alternatively we could produce less with the same land and starve some poor bugger in the developing world – i.e. export our problems again!)

  22. Valleywatcher

    December 19, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    The big factor here, Barry, is that a vast majority of these monoculture tree plantations have been established in our WATER CATCHMENTS. Do you get that? OUR WATER CATCHMENTS – we do not want them there for very obvious reasons.

    Of course, it is a sensible idea to reduce or eradicate all pesticide use in our environment, but you cannot seriously expect one person to fight this problem on all fronts do you? I personally applaud Alsion Bleaney for keeping in your faces about it………in the end it will be proven that she is right and you are wrong.

  23. Dr Barry Tomkins

    December 19, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    Dr Bleaney. Three factors have had a huge effect on pesticide use and expenditure in plantations.

    The first is that there is little expansion in eucalypt plantations in Australia today; in fact the latest figures indicate about 20,000 ha annually across the whole of Australia for all species, not just eucalypts. The decline from the days of the MIS expansion has been dramatic – down from about 80,000 ha p.a. or more.

    The second is that the recovery of the agricultural sector has also seen a substantial increase in sales of pesticides; witness the recovering fortunes of Nufarm for example.

    The third is the collapse in the price of a key pine herbicide, hexazinone, after generic products came into the market following the expiry of the patent period. DuPont are actually pulling out of the hexazinone market in Australia (hexazinone is also used in sugar cane etc) because the price is about 1/3 of what is was and the margins are very slim.

    The net effect is that the estimate now for plantation pesticide expenditure has halved in real terms since 2004 and that today only $1 or even less in every $250 spent on pesticides goes into the forestry market, and most of that is into the pine market. Pine plantations supply about 85% of the framing timber for Australian houses.

    Dr Bleaney has little credibility after the 2004 Scammell/Bleaney nonsense and the more recent ‘Something in the Water’ ABC program., which the ABC had to apologize for on the basis of lack of balance (and it was blatantly politically timed for the Tasmanian elections).

    To constantly carp about pesticide use in plantations, which is minimal, whilst ignoring the far larger use in agriculture, turf management, domestic, industrial etc shows a complete lack of balance and integrity of argument, and is therefore irrational scare-mongering.

    Dr Bleaney cannot put up evidence that plantation use of chemicals is ‘the elephant in the room’ where pesticide use is concerned. She well knows that detections in Tasmanian streams of agricultural pesticides NOT used in forestry predominate, in particular MCPA.

    Her shrill criticisms which lack any proper basis are tiresome, which is why I haven’t responded on this site for some time.

    Dr Barry Tomkins

  24. Isla MacGregor

    December 18, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    The Tasmanian Public and Environmental Health Network’s work is underpinned by a “One Health’ policy.

    TPEHN recognises the importance of all sources of contamination of our water supplies.

    Acid mine drainage, heavy metals, landfill seepage, industrial and agrochemical sources contribute to pollution of our waterways and risks to public and environmental health.

    An integrated approach to protection of our water catchments from all sources of pollution or overuse is fundamental to addressing the water crisis in Tasmania.

  25. David Obendorf

    December 18, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    Perhaps Alison a Facebook page for supporters of the Tasmanian Public and Environmental Health Network… ith links to our technical website – Sourcewatch – Pollution Information Tasmania.

    Community networks can work where sole-trader individuals tire. Good luck with it!

  26. barry

    December 18, 2011 at 10:31 am

    Had a quick read of the article.You should at least put some dates on this article.Stan Seijka unfortunately passed away quite a while ago but this article makes it look like he is making comment as of now.

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