LEAD Action News Vol
1 no 3 Spring 1993 ISSN 1324-6011
National Consultative Committee on Lead in Petrol
Elizabeth O'Brien reports on the first meeting organised by the Commonwealth Environment Protection Authority (CEPA) in response to the Round Table Agreement
Canberra, Tues 28 Sept 1993.
Of the 30 people attending the meeting approximately half were bureaucrats (Federal and State environment departments), with the remainder being from industry, apart from one Australian Conservation Foundation representative, and myself as the only representative of lead affected community groups.
It became clear to me that, firstly, the petroleum industry has lobbied state and federal governments extremely effectively to bring about legislation which exactly suits their plan for a slow reduction of the amount of lead in petrol. Secondly, the automotive industry has won the battle to severely restrict the number of cars designated to be able to use unleaded petrol to around one quarter of the pre 1986 car fleet. The only remaining chance where the community can be satisfied that health and environmental considerations are the basis of the decision making process is that a far sighted politician or bureaucrat will push for a final phase-out date for leaded petrol in the very near future. That is, to force petrol companies to sell, as soon as possible, a fuel with all the properties of leaded fuel (but without the lead), which can be used in the remaining three quarters of pre 1986 cars. This unleaded high octane fuel with a non-lead lubricant is the only antidote to the present paranoia, for which no proof has been presented, that low octane unleaded fuel may damage some engines.
Further refining, which results In more carcinogenic aromatics in the mix, to achieve a high octane fuel, is no longer being considered as an option. A technical sub-committee of the consultative committee has been set up to rapidly draw together information on alternative octane enhancers (high octane components added to the fuel), which will furnish the practicalities to support the essential political decision to phase-out leaded petrol by 1995 or 1996 (as in NZ).
At the meeting, consultation was begun on a National Lead Education Campaign which should draw on the work of the New South Wales Lead Working Groups, and some unknown work of the Victorian EPA.
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