20 Oct 2005

Fiji senate ratifies Chemical Weapons Convention Bill

4:34 pm on 20 October 2005

Fiji's Senate has passed the Chemical Weapons Convention Bill, 12 years after it first signed and ratified the convention in 1993.

A major part of Fiji's obligation under the convention is to ensure that the development, production, use and transfer of chemical weapons are banned, and the chemicals and infrastructure involved are destroyed.

But Labour Senator Atu Emberson-Bain told the Upper House that the immediate dangers Fiji faces are not from stockpiles or the production of chemical weapons, but the toxic chemicals used in mining.

Dr Emberson-Bain said dangerous chemicals used at the Vatukoula gold mine have been entering the atmosphere, the river systems and the food chain for 70 years causing breathing and respiratory problems and other illnesses.

She said the disposal of mine waste into tailings dams is a major environmental and health problem because of leakage into nearby rivers.

Dr Emberson-Bain has called for better regulation and control.