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Qld: Agent Orange contaminant found in soil near Brisbane River

By Jessica Marszalek
12 Dec 2008 9:10 PM

BRISBANE, Dec 12 AAP - Dioxin, a toxic chemical used in the defoliant Agent Orange, has been found in soil near the Brisbane River.

Queensland's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Friday revealed the presence of dioxin in soil at an industrial site at Pinkenba and on the banks of a nearby drain which leads into the city's river.

An EPA statement said the company that owned the land, Incitec Pivot, made the discovery while carrying out soil tests under an environmental program.

The chemical manufacturer informed the EPA on Friday.

It is believed the contamination dates back to the 1960s and 1970s when the land housed a factory which made Agent Orange - a herbicide used in the Vietnam War.

The EPA has no records relating to the factory as controls were not as strict 40 years ago.

Dioxin is a contaminant in Agent Orange which persists in soil and does not readily dissolve in water.

"As dioxins are dangerous chemicals, the Environmental Protection Agency is taking the management of this matter extremely seriously," the statement said.

It said Incitec Pivot would remove the soil early next year using soil clean-up specialists.

"The company will conduct further tests of soil around the site to ensure the contamination is removed from around the drain, and those tests will be independently reviewed," it said.

"The EPA will monitor the clean-up to ensure that all contamination is safely removed and properly treated."

Exposure to dioxin has been linked to increased risk of various types of cancer and genetic defects.