Once more to the Gates!
Report of the Cyanide Watch blockade
of Orica's cyanide plant
at Yarwun, near Gladstone, 26 June 2007

 

Banner rig beside the gate of Orica Australia Ltd's cyanide and ammonium nitrate plant at Yarwun, near Gladstone, Queensland, 26 June 2007.

The light rain did not cease. Nor did Orica cease its toxic production.

From the far side of the gate from an awesome 5-story high compilation of vapor emitting towers, pipes and ducts came the hum of industry making poison as fast as it could.

And also the sound of office announcements to the outdoor staff on a PA and the voice unaffected by emotion, business as usual, so calm, so efficient and so deadly.

But hey! we had seized the gates, seized the moment and seized the imagination to make our truth known.



Benny Zable on barrels watched by local media folk outside the gate of Orica Australia Ltd's cyanide plant, Yarwun, 26 June 2007.

In the witness of the local Gladstone media and police and also in the witness of the Orica workers in earshot of the Peacebus.com PA, we named Orica as Australia's number one cyanide criminal.

We damned the Chairman Donald P Mercer, CEO Graeme R Liebelt, Manager Environmental Risk and Compliance Anthony Pospisil, Yarwun site manager Rob Mossop and all the staff and workers who profiteer and take coin to make poison knowing their cyanide is permanently poisoning water in Australia and the South Pacific on a mind boggling scale.

The water of future generations. May their children not despise them.

We were about 30 in number if you count, as I do, the police on duty and the Chubb security guys on the other side of the fence. Ten of us were there to bear witness to the cyanide crimes of Orica and its personnel, 20 to watch over and mind us.

Chubb guys in their fluoro wet jackets and hoods were on duty when Happy Wheels arrived at 9.30 am. They were expecting me but not talking.

The police arrived soon after. I was expecting them. We had confirmed the action by phone at 9 am. It was all negotiated and there were no surprises.

Another day, another Cyanide Watch action. But wet.

Coming north from the Yeppoon Peace Convergence I had called in at the Gladstone police station, met Snr Sgt Peter McFarlane and given notice of my Orica blockade intentions.

Eleven months previous, when Peacebus.com had come to the gates of Orica with the Student Activist Road trip, Peter had been in Gladstone as the relieving Snr Sgt.

Now co-incidently he was relieving again. He had welcomed me to Gladstone like an old friend. In the centre of the door to his office at eye height was a Cyanide Watch sticker. Still there from last year.

We had the action agreed within 30 seconds.

"No worries," said Peter.

"How many?" he asked. "I don't want to be accused of over policing."

Headlines in the local independent daily newspaper, the Gladstone Observer, last year had been very supportive of our Cyanide Watch action and had lambasted the local cops for over policing.

"Ten," i guessed. "But the more police the better from my point of view."

After all police are made of water too and I am more than eager to share the facts about the toxic practices of profiteering corporate criminals like Orica and Barrick Gold with the Queensland Police.

Alone and in the rain I set to with the rig, parking Happy Wheels on the grass by Orica's gateway signage. First up I hung a tarp off its roof racks to provide some shelter while I worked and shelter too for when the comrades arrived who were on the road from Yeppoon.

I had put out media call for 11 am and it was just after that that John Peace, Michael Chai, Benny Zable, Omega, Mia Pepper and others rolled into Yarwun.

For awhile there, for all the flags and banners, I was a one man show and the Gladstone Observer, reporter could not help but ask, "Just you?"

"Well I used to have a dog ..." But that's another story.

Michael and Benny set to work and, with agreement of the cops set up his barrels out front of the gates where the towers, ducts, pipes and vapors of the cyanide plant would be the background.

The local WIN TV news crew turned up at noon so the timing was just about perfect.

So was the set up. The flags and banners were colourful and impressive, the quick erect tent that eventually arrived to shelter the police only added to colour and the sense of siege.


Sheltering under the tarp and under our umbrellas, the media folk got there shots and grabs and soon departed.

No vehicles attempted to use the gate during our blockade. Some approached but were directed away by police.

We sustained the blockade in the interval between the arrival of Happy Wheels and its departure about 4 hours. And we had been noticed.

But to have stayed in that drizzle, despite the ready comfort and constant supply of hot ginger tea from the Happy Wheels mobile cafe, would have been mortification of the flesh.

Besides which the Yeppoon comrades wanted to keep driving south to the comforts of hearth.

Point made, we were soon packed up and out of there.

What practiced protests veterans we were after the days together at the Peace Convergence.

"The Team!" exclaimed Benny.

Activist records activist, Mia Pepper on camera, Benny Zable in costume outside the gate of Orica Australia Ltd's cyanide plant, Yarwun, 26 June 2007.

Long time friends and after many shared protest events, we know how to work together. The way our flags and banners and theatre transform a space, such the gateway of Orica, Yarwun, with colour, and give it instant, if temporary, new meaning and significance is a wonder to behold. Rain or no rain.

A farewell handshake with Peter McFarlane: "See you next year," said he with a smile.

"Too easy," says Sgt Jim (?), by way of farewell. Sgt Jim had found me and introduced himself to me three days before in Yeppoon in order to assure me of his goodwill.

Lots of goodwill from the police at Gladstone.

At the previous blockade I had spoken my praise and gratitude of Snr Sgt. Peter McFarlane's management of it, out loud on the Peacebus.com PA.

This year he had begged me to be less fulsome; said he had suffered ribbing from his colleagues.

I will say it none the less, and here, for I want to salute appropriate policing where ever i meet it

Good job, Peter. You are a good man, respectful and unafraid to do what's right. It's always an honour to be acquainted such men.

The Peacebuses took refuge at Tanyalla, the Church of England Conference Centre at Canoe Point about 25 km south of Gladstone and the kindness of Lady Jane, the big hearted on-trial manager, my compassionate host and carer from the previous year.

Hanging out sopping flags and banners to dry, I plunged into a deep hot bath and soaked for 2 hours.

Blessed be the hot bath providers.

For the Earth!

To the dust!

Graeme Dunstan
captain, Peacebus.com
26 June 2007

The famous Peacebuses together and aligned at the Yawun blockade, 2007

Media outcomes

Sorry, I didn't hang about Gladstone long enough to collect and compile it.

But does it matter? Orica management certainly knew we were there and that our opposition is relentless and grows with the news of every cyanide spill.

Criminals must always be at work to cover their crimes and their shame.

Just one candle dispells the dark.

Orica is corporate criminal but a corporation is itself is an emptiness, a legal construct to hide and reduce the actual responsibilty of the shareholders and management for their criminal actions.

We of Cyanide Watch are not deceived.

By the gates of Orica cyanide plant we have taken vows to out you as cyanide criminals.

Hear us, Donald P Mercer, Graeme R Liebelt and Anthony Pospisil. Hear us when we say, we are coming you intent on pointing the bone and naming you so that all your family, all your neighbours and all your friends will know your true natures.

Cyanide criminals.

May your children not despise you!

For the Yarwun Cyanide Blockade pre-publicity, Click here

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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