UFU welcomes WorkSafe charges for toxic dumper Graham Leslie White

WorkSafe have today announced 55 charges against Graham Leslie White over his reckless toxic dumping which put community and professional career firefighter safety at risk.

UFU Branch Secretary Peter Marshall  today welcomed the charges against White, who had toxic stockpiles at four warehouses.

“Professional career firefighters already have one of the most dangerous jobs in our community. Illegal dumpers create toxic timebombs that make an already dangerous job unacceptably more dangerous,” Mr Marshall said.

“Aside from the exposure to toxic chemicals, not knowing what is in those illegal warehouses is like trying to fight a fire with one arm tied behind your back – it’s unsafe for the firefighters and for the community.

“White appears to be an unscrupulous and reckless operator. He must face the full penalties under the law.”

The UFU has been campaigning for a crackdown on illegal dumpers since the West Footscray and Campbellfield warehouse fires left frontline career firefighters suffering adverse health effects, with some leading to hospitalisations. Health problems included bleeding noses, debilitating fatigue, severe headaches, respiratory illness and even meningitis directly attributed to the unnecessary exposures.

Both fires were a result of illegal dumping or stockpiling of hazardous chemicals and waste. The lack of compliance and reporting forced the responding career firefighters to battle the noxious blazes without full knowledge of what was burning.

In June the Victorian government announced changes to the Dangerous Goods Act, which introduced a new criminal offence known as Reckless Conduct. This legislative amendment will see individuals face up to 10 years imprisonment, while corporations risk fines of up to $6.4 million, if they’re found guilty of illegal toxic dumping.

The changes came after the UFU launched a community campaign to raise awareness about the effects of toxic dumping on professional career firefighters.

These penalties would serve as a deterrent to others following the alleged actions of White.

Peter Marshall is available for comment today on 0419 127 004.