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Friday, 11 February  2005  Howrah Tip

Visit a place called Howrah in Tasmania and meet some people who think the rubbish dumped in the area has made them sick.

POPPY LOPATNIUK: On our left, number 22, two people have died there from cancer - the lady died from cancer, in this home here, this one on the left.

POPPY LOPATNIUK: This is my old home here on the corner with the golden elm tree and we have had leukaemia and a lot of tumours in our family, lot of illness.

JUDY TIERNEY: Driving around this Eastern Shore suburb in Hobart isn't something Poppy Lopatniuk does often.

This is a place she wants to forget, but can't.

That's because she believes the well-manicured plots could be sitting on a slow-ticking time bomb which may have already delivered a lethal legacy.

POPPY LOPATNIUK: Well they both died of cancer there, didn't they, and the tip went right through up here.

JUDY TIERNEY: For five years Poppy Lopatniuk has been on a mission to have this area at Wentworth Park on Howrah's foreshore tested for toxic substances she believes are possibly responsible for tragedies in her family and the death of at least 11 people.

POPPY LOPATNIUK: This is the Howrah Beach, this is the lagoons and our street, Correa Street, came down in the middle of the lagoons and the lagoons were filled with landfill.

JUDY TIERNEY: This little area with its neat homes, recreational parks and a primary school was an uncontrolled tip site during most of the 1960s.

JUDY TIERNEY: Philip Tattersall believes the old tip site at Wentworth Park warrants further investigation.

PHILIP TATTERSALL: We found that the potential for large amounts of all sorts of nasties would be disposed in these areas. Anything from oils to waste chemicals.

JUDY TIERNEY: Old oil was certainly dumped in the uncontrolled tip site at Howrah, quite legally.

JUDY TIERNEY: Basil Shearing was the local milkman so he remembers the area well.

BASIL SHEARING: I was the same as the rest of the people who lived in Clarence, I put rubbish in the rubbish tip, toxic rubbish.

JUDY TIERNEY: Poppy Lopatniuk also remembers clearly the extensive spraying over the tip to kill off vermin and mosquitoes.

It's impossible to know exactly what was sprayed here so many years ago and Philip Tattersall can only speculate.

PHILIP TATTERSALL: I know things like DDTs were used. Some of the other organochlorins were probably used.

JUDY TIERNEY: This is exactly what Poppy Lapatniuk fears.

She's knocked on just about every imaginable bureaucrat's door -- urging a study of the Wentworth Park area.

POPPY LOPATNIUK: Very, very frustrated because the doors have been closed, no-one would speak to me about it and it's just been, I feel as though I've been put on a merry-go-round.

JUDY TIERNEY: Nobody it seems has ever done any testing of the possible contaminants here.

PHILIP TATTERSALL: The Howrah site should be classified as a hazardous site.

ANNE CRUISE: Well I'd like some testing done just to prove that it's OK now for future children and people living there.

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English Bites - Howrah Tip
story notes

well-manicured plots
neat and tidy areas of land

slow-ticking time bomb
something that will cause trouble long into the future

lethal legacy
Lethal means deadly, or causing death. And a legacy is a result.

A rubbish tip or a rubbish dump, often just called a tip or a dump, are places where rubbish is thrown away and left.


Landfill is another word for rubbish dump or rubbish tip. It's a hole in the ground that is filled with rubbish that is then buried.

pests; unwanted animals

DDT is a chemical used to kill insects that is now banned in many countries.

Organochlorins are synthetic chemicals used to kill pests. DDT is an organochlorin.

things that contaminate, or poison


Today's spotlight is hazardous.

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