Australia yesterday said it was “unfortunate” that Denmark had canceled plans to receive and destroy shipments of thousands of tonnes of hazardous waste, as the company involved considered its next move.
Australian Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities Tony Burke said the decision was made on political rather than safety grounds and followed strong opposition to disposing of the highly toxic hexachlorobenzene at a specialized facility west of Copenhagen.
“[Danish Environment Minister Karen Ellemann] informed me about the political situation and debate in Denmark, which — regrettably — has led to the political conclusion that the shipment should not proceed,” Burke said. “Mrs Ellemann assured me that all required environmental and safety assessments have been conducted to the satisfaction of the Danish authorities and that the Danish conclusion therefore by nature is political.”
Burke added that it was an “unfortunate situation.”
Denmark postponed the shipments this month and finally canceled them on Thursday following a backlash based on environmental concerns. The shipments, scheduled to travel halfway round the world, had also been criticized by Greenpeace.
Moving the 6,100 tonnes of toxic chemicals had been approved by both the Australian and Danish governments under the Basel Convention on the Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Waste.