Action News Volume 7 No 4, 2000, ISSN 1324-6011 Incorporating Lead Aware Times ( ISSN 1440-4966) and Lead Advisory Service News ( ISSN 1440-0561)
The journal of The LEAD (Lead Education and Abatement Design) Group Inc.
REFERENCE 3: Lead
*Roundtable Agreements. 29th July 1993.
Lead Roundtable was convened by federal Environment Minister Ros Kelly and involved over
150 delegates from all Australian governments, car, petrol, paint and mining industry
groups, unions and environment and consumer groups. The Lead Roundtable agreements
below were reached by consensus at the daylong meeting on 29th July 1993.
It was agreed that there are compelling health
reasons to reduce lead in petrol. To do so should be a principal element in a national
lead abatement strategy. Comment
reducing lead in petrol and a public information campaign were the only 2 elements in the
"national lead abatement strategy".
There was broad support for a national approach with
recognition of regional/state circumstances. There was universal agreement that the
problem was serious and warranted urgent action by all concerned. Comment action was taken.
There was agreement that petrol sourced from Victoria
and NSW move to 0.2 g/L at 96 RON by the end of 1994 and that other States move to 0.3 g/L
at 96 RON and aim to get to 0.2 g/L by 1995 provided that octane demand can be
significantly reduced. It is encouraging to see that oil companies have given a commitment
to move towards 0.2 g/L by the end of 1995. A total phaseout should be achieved as soon as
practical. Comment the phased
reductions occurred but I dont believe 2002 as a total phase-out date constitutes
"as soon as practical".
The impact of a reduction of the RON rating below 97
be further assessed between now and 1994. Comment
it was found to have negligible impact.
There was support for urgent study of the
possibilities and implications of the use of additives such as MTBE as a substitute for
lead. Comment achieved.
There was unanimous agreement on a national education
campaign targeted at consumers and petrol station operators to be undertaken as a
partnership initiative between Governments, industry, unions and community and trade
organisations with a particular focus on the health benefits and information at the pump.
There was also support for the suggestion that the name of Super be changed to Leaded
petrol. Comment achieved.
Without delaying action, there was support for
selective studies in partnership with industry and other relevant bodies such as NHMRC of
the incidence and distribution of blood lead levels to monitor the effectiveness of the
interventions. Comment an inner
Sydney blood lead survey of young children was published in 1996 which found that the
percentage of children with a blood lead level over the Australian goal of 10
halved (from 50 % of children to 25 % of children) since a similar study published in
1992. No other study or pairs of studies could be said in any way to have monitored the
effectiveness of the petrol and education interventions. If the national blood lead survey
of Australian children were revised and reported accurately, and a follow-up study were
done, this would also provide some comparative data to monitor the effectiveness of the
lead in petrol reduction and education campaign Australia-wide.
The importance of a price differential was emphasised
by many participants. The economic and equity implications were noted. The importance of
an incentive element in a total package and the fact that the cost of manufacture of
leaded fuel was now greater than that of unleaded was recognised. Price differentials of
between 2c and 5c per litre were canvassed. While the community groups, Victoria and some
industry groups strongly urged the case for price differentials, some State and Territory
Governments emphasised their reservations. Comment a 1c price differential was introduced in 1993 and increased
to 2c in 1994.
The need to monitor the effects of measures adopted
and to reassess strategies in 12 months time was emphasised. At that point vehicle
modification and possible vehicle replacement strategies may have to be considered. Comment the Lead Roundtable Review was held in
Adelaide on 20th September 1994 but because only the lead petrol and education
strategies had been implemented, no representatives from paint, mining or other lead
industries were invited to the review. The meeting almost exclusively looked at leaded and
unleaded petrol sales statistics and air lead monitoring data as no blood lead data had
been collected for monitoring purposes. Negligible problems with the octane reduction were
noted, as was the need to include education on benzene in further education campaigns, to
overcome the successful benzene scare campaign that had been helped by the poor
methodology and the medias misinterpretation of data from the benzene study by the
University of Technology in Sydney. The EPAs "intention to establish a national
protocol for testing devices" [to modify vehicles so they can run on unleaded petrol]
and agreement that the "significant problem" of misleading claims on the devices
"would be drawn to the attention of Consumer Affairs when the protocol was
finalised." I am not aware of this follow-up having occurred. Delegates at the Lead
Roundtable Review were advised that "ANZECC [Australia New Zealand Environment and
Conservation Council] had established a working party to look at the use of economic
instruments in achieving environmental objectives. A report should be available in 6
months Delegates discussed a range of investigations and reports relating to vehicle
replacement schemes, concluding that this was a complex issue with major
ramifications." In 1999, a report by OECD and UNEP (Organisation for Economic
Cooperation and Development, and United Nations Environment Program) - "Phasing Lead
Out of Gasoline: An Examination of Policy Approaches in Different Countries" stated
"It has now been
conclusively demonstrated in a variety of countries, that taxation policies that ensure
that unleaded gasoline is cheaper than leaded gasoline can be very effective in
accelerating the rapid introduction of unleaded fuel."
The public transport option was also pointed to as
deserving closer consideration. Comment
it was stated at the Lead Roundtable Review that the issue of use of public
transport was being reviewed by the Department of Urban and Regional Development."
Smogbusters is an initiative of Environment Australia run by environment groups, funded
for most of the time since 1995, with a focus on public transport use, cycling and
It was agreed it would be useful to investigate the
way that premium ULP might contribute to reducing lead use in the longer term.
Comment this was not discussed at the Lead Roundtable
Review, though it was stated that the development of a National Environmental Standard for
Petrol "had been funded as part of the National Lead Abatement Strategy".
Finally it was agreed that all Governments would work
towards the development of a National Lead Abatement Strategy including appropriate
strategies for remediation of areas with site-specific lead problems. Comment it was stated in the minutes of the Lead
Roundtable Review that "NSW and Victoria were working towards a lead abatement
strategy" but that any future national "lead abatement activities would be
discussed at ANZECC [in November 1994]" and initiation of additional activities was
dependent on "results of the National Blood Lead Survey" and completion of
current projects. "Outstanding lead abatement issues were in mining, education and
training. Contaminated sites and problems related to lead in paint were State/Territory
matters." The WA EPA delegate stated that "lead in paint was not a significant
issue in Western Australia." The Queensland environment department delegate tried to
claim that "Queens-land did not have a problem with lead in paint" but the
manager of the national Lead Advisory Service [the present writer] countered this. I also
expressed concern that the federal government was not addressing the NHMRC's published
lead strategy recommendations (see above). "It was pointed out that lead abatement
activities at the national level were being carried out in accordance with the
recommendations of the Lead Roundtable" This statement clearly related to every
recommendation of the Lead Roundtable except this one that I am commenting on.
IMPORTANT REQUEST TO READERS I have
written italicised comments after each component in the following government plans
regarding consumer products but I would love to hear from you if my comment is
wrong or incomplete and will be happy to print a retraction with the good news about what
has actually happened, in a later issue of LEAD Action News.