In The Courier-Mail today there was an article about the Caltex refinery at Lytton.
It said that Caltex (Texaco and Chevron) will forge ahead with an upgrade of its Brisbane refinery despite concerns over the toxic effects of the sulphur dioxide it will generate.
That this is the case comes as no surprise.
Caltex has a firm record of ignoring the concerns local residents have for their health and wellbeing.
For example, gas emissions at the Caltex oil refinery in Cape Town have been a cause for alarm for local residents for some time. Studies conducted there show that children had unusually high levels of asthma and allergies associated with exposure to petrochemical emissions.
Unfortunately their city’s officials don’t foresee any health risk at the moment, so aren’t doing anything.
For 20 years Texaco pumped oil from the Ecuadorian rainforest. After extracting about one billion barrels of crude oil, Texaco pulled out of Ecuador leaving behind a huge mess of toxic waste pits, oil spills and poisoned communities.
In Indonesia, pollution from Texaco’s Caltex operations killed fish in Siak River tributaries, destroyed rubber trees near the streams and caused skin diseases among Sungai Limau people.
No surprises then when I heard about the concerns from residents about the Caltex refinery here in Brisbane.
I agree with Wynnum North resident Jon Chevalley that there is little logic in allowing the refinery to begin producing low sulphur fuel, and then assessing whether the emissions would be dangerous.
But profit rarely inspires environmental logic.
Why wait for locals, especially the young, to suffer from respiratory illnesses and then perhaps maybe do something? Why not put in preventative measures today?
When an oil plant is expanded, the profits will also expand. This company makes billions of dollars. It’s surely not a big ask for the Lord Mayor to demand that they put in a sulphur recovery unit now to ensure the health of our local community tomorrow?
Brisbane residents now and in the future have a right to enjoy a clean and healthy environment. I think I need further convincing, Mr Newman, tell us, really, why the change of heart?