Letting Sydney know about Cyanide Transport
A Report of the Blockade of the Pacific National transfer yard,
Dasea Street, Chullora, 2 May 2007

 

Banner rig beside the nondescript gates of Pacific National's transfer yard at Chullora, Sydney, 2 May 2007.

We were few, we were valiant and we stopped the cyanide passing out of Pacific National's transfer yard at Chullora, Sydney, 2 May 2007.

Since the maker of the cyanide, Orica, the carrier Pacific National and the NSW government were withholding information about the quantity and frequency of the cyanide transports, we were there to stop trucks and ask the drivers directly what they were carrying.

The police were there, they said, to ensure our safety. The Bankstown Duty Officer, Inspector Dave Rodglen, offered to negotiate the stopping of a cyanide truck for us so that we might get the media shot and be satisfied, but the Pacific National wouldn't have it because it might set a bad precedent.

Bad? It is the intention of Cyanide Watch to set the precendent and stop the transport of bulk cyanide everywhere and forever.

The cops held us back from the road and we tried hailing the drivers. ocasionally stopping a truck, a passing curiousity to the contractor drivers, an embarassing nuisance to Pacific National. This is called bearing witness.

We were on the lookout for the HAZMAT signs on the passing containers, or the absence of them, and we noticed no trucks pass indentified as carrying cyanide.


After an hour or so we were informed by Inspector Dave Rodglen that there was no cyanide being transferred from rail to truck that day. He said this sheepishly so he might have been trying to deceive us but, said on camera, it represented a small victory for Cyanide Watch: we had officially stopped the cyanidepassing out of Chullora for at least a few hours.

That's a change for the good because the information at hand suggests that some days they move up to 12,000 tonnes of cyanide. That's 600 flat top trucks each with a 20 tonne containers of cyanide, each with enough lethal doses to poison every man, women and child in Australia at least once.

Every day we force the halt of the toxic transports is a cause for celebration, a peoples' victory won from the corporate cyanide criminals and their corrupt mates in goverment; won in the defense of the rights of future generations to clean water.

We were about 12, most were young people under 25, this always an auspicious sign of a growing campaign and they had responded to solidarity calls made on the Save Lake Cowal and Cyanide Watch email lists. So hang in there friends, these are lists that produce action. (Here you can subscribe to future Cyanide Watch emailings)

Dave Suttle from the Student Environment Activist Network was there, red dreadlocked Lake Cowal hero of last Easter, he who was unarrested.

Mia Pepper arrived bouncing into the RSPCA carpark in her bush dual cab truck, out of Blue Mountains retreat and frail with grief for her recently departed dog.

Celia of the UTS Enviro Collective made the journey to Chullora. The Collective had not been convinced a truck yard blockade would be feasible, she told me. But Celia was curious and brave enough to come check it out. Good on ya, Celia.

Two magnificent young men had accompanied me as personal friends. One was Peter Singer, born and bred in Campbelltown lad, a TAFE student, muscian by vocation, bon vivant by nature, is lodging near my Wedderburn camp and he had shared a few fires with me and was eager to do an action.

Pete set to willingly and helped me get the flags and banners deployed. As we drove to Chullora together, he asked and I gave a cyanide briefing. A confident performer, tall, hair blackened, stud in brow, later he went eagerly to the mike and delivered a great grab or three to the ABC TV news camera.

The other young warrior was Kieran da Silva also a Campbelltown boy, now a research student of advanced material science at Wollongong University. We had met at Dharma retreat and it seems that I have become a mentor to him.

Amongst other things he wanted to talk about was how to manifest $4mill so that he might manifest cold fusion, a limited source of energy releasing at room temperature, for example wafer thin panels of self generating light that burn forever. A Dharma practitioner his mind is clear, stable and focussed and one day he will manifest cold fusion and if not some other extraordinary and beneficial phenomena. I was honoured to have his companionship that day, but anyone asking me about money is a worry.

Photographer and freelance film maker, Belinda Pratten was also a witness that day. She had driven down from Canberra, she a friend and video collaborator of Ellie Gilbert. Ellie in Toronto Belinda was covering the blockade for her and her Lake Cowal campaign video project.

About 20 police and an array of fluoro vests of private security and observers representing the various agencies and corporations involved were also standing about.

I met the Chullora Terminal Manager only briefly as I was negotiating the occupation before the arrival of the cops. His name was Declan and his hired security man had manhandled me down the road past the weight bridges. Declan wouldn't give me his surname or answer any questions. He kept repeating: "This is enclosed lands. Get out of here. You are trepassing. I am not answering any questions."

The corporates such as Declan were silenced; they were not talking to the media either. Silence is the cost of swearing loyalty to a corporation; it is not the only cost. Loss of family and neighbourhood time is another and stress; and it also costs independence of voice and possibily soul too, as in Faustian pact: "I give you the world," the dark one said. "You give me your soul so that i might destroy the world."

The police and the corporates had also responded to the notice given on the email list, the Bankstown police contacting me two days before to confirm INTELL report sent to them.

I welcomed the call. I am always happy to talk to police and negotiate win-win outcomes for Cyanide Watch actions or any other artful occupation of public place that I might organise. This my skill, this my vocation and I have been doing it for a while now; "well known to police in three states" as they used to say darkly in police news stories.

The NSW Police service is a big and complex organisation and there will always be dunderheads, bullies and Nazis amongst them. But my experience is the more sober, thoughtful and senior ones bone up on www.peacebus.com before they arrive and they know what to expect; to wit, respect, challenge and reportage. And they give as good as they get.

Bankstown has few protests so Peacebus.com was received that day as a curiosity if not a celebrity.

Beside Inspector Dave when we introduced ourselves was a cop in plain clothes: balding, olive skinned, a bit paunchy from the good life, sunglasses and look of a mafia don or character actor from the Sopranos. I asked his name and he happily gave it and his card too: Detective Snr Constable Frank Ramaccia.

The first thing Frank says:"Sorry about your dog."

At once my heart was melting in grief again. I spoke my grief and Frank consoled.

Likewise the man in charge, Inspector Dave said: "I have two dogs. I know how you must feel."

And Mia grieving too, Jennifer's death has opened to me a vast common ground of shared dog grief.

As a protest action we were colourful, with lots of flags and banners deployed. We were loud, speaking on a PA open mike. And we made our point.



Media response included an ABC TV news journalist/camera person, Caro Meldrum, and calls were received from Australian Associated Press and a Griffith paper.

Caro took a lot of handheld camera footage and departed not confident that it would be aired. But it was, and what a dramatic piece her editing made of it! See media and linked video @ http://abc.net.au/news/items/200705/1912374.htm?sydney

Close as we were to Fairfax Ltd and News Ltd works, no reporters came from there. So it goes.

For sure the cabal of corporate cyanide criminals, Pacific National, Orica Limited and Barrick Gold Corporation, knew we were there.

After some of us went on into the Sydney CBD, met at the offices of the NSW Department of Natural Resources in Bridge Street at 2 pm and there Lake Cowal activist, Mia Pepper, delivered questions in regard to water allocations given Barrick Gold.



Raising the flags and banners outside of the offices of the NSW Department of Natural Resources, Bridge St, Sydney, 2 May 2007.

The questions were addressed to:

Richard Sheldrake, Director General, NSW Department of Natural Resources
Chris Ray, Director of Executive Services
David Harris, Executive Director Water Management
and Steve Dunnby, Executive Director, Compliance and Licensing,

1. How much water in Barrick Gold's Lake Cowal mine licensed to take?
2. How many surface water licenses are allocated to Barrick Gold at Lake Cowal?
3. What period of time are the above licenses valid for?
4. Have Barrick bought or leased and licenses originally allocated for agricultural irrigation purposes?
5. Are licenses originally allocated for agricultural irrigation purposes transferable to use in mining?
6. What was the justification for the 3660 million liters condition of consent during a time when there was an embargo on all water licenses?
7. Who monitors the use and abuse of these licenses?

The written questions were received without comment. There were about seven of us, no cops, and we hung about the grand old public entrance of what was once the Department of Lands, a premier public service department. Not any longer.

A public servant near the door, a recalcitrant smoker, took interest in our cause. He confirmed with a colleague inside who had family at Lake Cargellico (near Lake Cowal) that people out west were "spewing" about the water licenses given Barrick in thi time of drought and he gave us some good advice.

Since the last NSW state elections a new Department of Environment and Climate Change had been created and it had the responsibility for water licenses and it was headquartered in Goulburn Street.

But we hung about with our flags and banners till an AAP reporter showed up. Mia took the call.

Both these actions were conducted as part of the International Day of Action Against Barrick Gold.

On the other side of the world, Neville 'Chappy' Williams, Ellie Gilbert, Arinya Freeman (Wiradjuri nation) and Nat Lowery of Friends of the Earth Australia were getting noticed in Toronto, Canada, protesting at Barrick Gold's Annual General Meeting.

They were supported by CorpWatch and they were joined by Western Shoshone who are also fighting Barrick on their lands in Nevada.

The other countries where protests against Barrick took place on that day included: Chile, Argentina, Peru,Tanzania, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Europe, Australia (that was us!) and USA.

Escrache a la Barrick Gold en Buenos Aires, 2 May 2007

From the gates of the Barrick Gold's mine at Lake Cowal, to the gates of its cyanide carrier at Chullora to the gates of its AGM in Toronto, the campaign to save Lake Cowal and ban cyanide leach mining goes forth in gathering strength.

Chappie addressed the AGM and delivered to the Barrick Gold Chairman, Peter Munk, a notice to quit Lake Cowal, the same notice that he had attempted to serve at Lake Cowal last Easter Sunday but was refused by the mine's PR flak, Bill Shallvey. After the AGM and on camera Peter Munk apologised to Chappie for desecrating Wiradjuri lands. See media below.

We are but fleas biting an elephant. But there are many of us and resourceful, and we have caused Barrick Gold to writhe in the glare of bad publicity.

At a time of peak gold prices and huge investment liquidity, Barrick is showing a quarterly loss, looking wobbly and besieged at its AGM; this makes shareholders wary. See http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/financialpost/story.html?id=cb293a65-9256-4200-bd5b-f6d5174db172&k=20286

May the Barrick Gold mine at Lake Cowal die of thirst! May its bones turn to dust in the dry Lake bed. May the rains return and the floods and the birds in triumph!

May we ban cyanide leach mining everywhere and forever!

May we ever stand together truly.

Everyone standing up alive.

For the Earth!

To the dust!

Graeme Dunstan
Cyanide Watch
4 May 2007

Happy Wheels with newly mounted painted mural by Elspeth Jones, Ostrom Street, South Lismore, 22 March 2007

Media outcomes

ABC News Online Last Update: Wednesday, 2 May 2007. 14:01 (AEST)Wednesday, 2 May 2007. 14:01

Sydney residents raise concerns about cyanide

By Caro Meldrum

Protestors have gathered outside Pacific National freight yard in Chullora to blockade trucks carrying cyanide.ABC News Concerned citizens have gathered at Chullora in western Sydney to protest against the multinational mining company Barrick Gold.

The protest was part of an International Day of Action against the company.

Barrick Gold has mines across the globe, including North and South America, Africa and Australia.

Protestors gathered at the entrance to transport company, Pacific National, on Dasea street, to blockade trucks carrying cyanide to Barrick's mine at Lake Cowal.

"Cyanide Watch" organiser, Graeme Dunstan, says he wants to know how much cyanide is being transported on Sydney roads.

"We want communities to know about the possible threat from a cyanide spill to their public health and water ways," he said.

Mr Dunstan says the maker of the cyanide, Orica, the transporter Pacific National, and the New South Wales Planning Minister are withholding information about how much cyanide is being trucked around the state.

"If the government won't tell us how much cyanide is being carried, if the carrier Pacific National say they can't tell us, and Orica are refusing to tell us, how are we going to find out?" he said. "If they won't tell us, we're going to ask the truck drivers direct. We'll stand in front of the trucks and demand to know."

"We're going to make sure they become visible, we are going to drag them into accountability." But Barrick Gold says it is committed to ensuring that the environment and local communities are protected.

The company's community relations manager, Bill Shallvey, says strict safety precautions are in place to prevent spillages and accidents.

"The company has always been open about how much cyanide is being transported to site. These figures appear on our Environment Impact Statement," he said.

"These figures state there are in excess of 6,000 of cyanide tonnes per annum for the Lake Cowal project."

"Barrick is the first mine globally that has been certified under the International Cyanide Management Code. And we also choose to buy our cyanide off Orica, which is also a signatory to that code."

"And that code is actually voluntary. It involves the safe transport, manufacturing, handling of materials, emergency response planning and community consultation."

Mr Shallvey says Mr Dunstan's claim that Barrick Gold is withholding information is unfounded. "We don't hide these things," he said.

"I don't think Mr Dunstan has anything better to do, and he misleads a lot of young people that don't know any better. Mr Dunstan encourages these people to trespass on site and do things that are very dangerous."

Webmaster's comment on the last sentence of Bill Shallvey's cry of dismay:

"Bill is right when he says Peacebus.com captain, Graeme Dunstan, doesn't have anything better to do. What could be more honourable and worthwhile than defending the Earth for future generations?

Bill is wrong when he says Graeme is leading young people into danger. Closer to the truth is that he is encouraging young people to be courageous and stand tall in the face of the challenges of the times."

The Australian, 4 May 2007

Miner under fire over cyanide poison threat

BARRICK Gold, one of the world's largest gold producers, yesterday attracted protests on two fronts, with a group of environmental activists questioning why it had been allocated water licences for a gold mine in NSW.

The protests coincided with the release of better than expected first-quarter results for the Canadian mining company.

Environmental group Cyanide Watch was protesting about the granting of water licences to Barrick Gold for its Lake Cowal mine in central NSW, claiming the company's use of cyanide in the mining process poisons ground water and causes other environmental damage.

The group said its protest outside the offices of the NSW Department of Land and Water in Sydney was aimed at protecting Lake Cowal, as well as stopping cyanide transportation and cyanide gold mining.

Another protest was held earlier in the day at a rail yard in Chullora used by Pacific National, the company that transports the cyanide used at Lake Cowal from a manufacturing plant in Queensland.

Cyanide Watch said attempts using freedom of information rules to access documents related to the water licences had proved fruitless. "We got access to 28 licences for full production bores that Barrick has got," Cyanide Watch spokeswoman Mia Pepper said.

"Originally they came to us blacked out. We couldn't see how much Barrick Gold paid for those licences, the date those licences were valid for and the whereabouts of those bores."

A Department of Land and Water spokeswoman said that if any information was blacked out in documents provided under FOI, it was because of issues of commercial confidentiality.

"Commercial confidentiality is where a private corporation's interests, such as costs and profits, cannot be displayed by us, as we are a government department," Lisa Miller said.

In Toronto, Barrick shares rose the most in a year on Wednesday after the company reported better than expected results and boosted its dividend for the first time since 2000.

Barrick rose $C1.56, or 5 per cent, to $C32.71, the biggest gain since May 4, 2006. It had fallen 9.6 per cent in the past year.

The company reported a net loss of $US159 million ($192 million), compared with net income of $US224 million a year ago. Excluding $US557 million in costs, profit was $US398 million.

AAP, Bloomberg

Now Toronto, News, 10 May 2007

Barrick boss gets served

By AMY CHUNG

Protest Barrick, a network of aboriginal communities from Australia, the U.S., Latin America and Asia, converged on Barrick Gold Corporation's shareholder meeting at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre May 2 to serve the company an eviction notice from First Nation land.

As shareholders entered the meeting, representatives of Nevada's Shoshone Nation and Australia's Wiradjuri handed them leaflets alleging water depletion and contamination from cyanide, a chemical used to extract gold from crushed ore.

Some demonstrators held proxy ballots and were able to enter the AGM to personally tell shareholders and chair Peter Munk what their communities are facing.

"I approached Munk after the meeting to tell him how Barrick is desecrating our sacred site, our dreaming place [Lake Cowal],'' says Neville "Chappy" Williams, an elder of the Wiradjuri from New South Wales.

The answer from Munk, he says, was "I'm so sorry.''

Williams served the eviction notice during the question period and demanded prompt action to cease all mining operations. Lake Cowal, the heartland of the Wiradjuri nation, is used for religious ceremonies, but access to it has been extremely difficult due to mining operations.

This was Williams's first trip outside Australia, and he says it was worth travelling across the world to confront Barrick. After the AGM, he says, some shareholders approached him to say they're considering selling their stock.

Author and journalist Naomi Klein kicked off the Protest Barrick event at a movie screening May 1 at the Brunswick Theatre, where she emphasized that gold, the cause of all this heartbreak, is an unnecessary commodity.

"This is our company, a Toronto-based company, and it's not an isolated case,'' said Klein. Canadians, she says, have a lot of experience mining on First Nations lands and are exporting these tactics abroad.

Links to other Big Bad Barrick Day media

YOUTUBE: Outreach to Barrick Gold shareholders in Canada - May 2/07 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9tUI8RXRNg
Toronto Star http://www.thestar.com/Business/article/209762
http://www.yourdemocracy.net.au/drupal/node/4439
http://www.frederictonpeace.org
http://paguntaka.org/2007/05/03/barrick-takes-the-rare-loss-on-the-blow-to-unroll-the-hedge/
http://intercontinentalcry.org/may-2-international-day-of-action-against-barrick-gold/
http://www.earthfirst.org.uk/actionreports/node/2562
http://www.inveslogic.com/sectors/directory/fp-trading-desk/831596
http://www.yubanet.com/artman/publish/article_56097.shtml

For the Chullora Cyanide Blockade pre-publicity, Click here

For the Cyanide Watch home page, Click here.

Click here for the Cyanide Watch media releases

Click here for an index of other Cyanide Watch actions

Click here for past productions of Peacebus.com

Click here for the Home page of Peacebus.com


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