Cattle contamination incident highlights need for Producers’ Guide to avoiding liability

Published: August 24, 2015

A cattle contamination incident at a Northern Territory mine site is a timely reminder for all farmers that  they could be liable if their animals or produce were contaminated by mining activities on their property, says Lock the Gate Alliance.

The group’s national spokesman, Phil Laird said media had reported that a large number of cattle had potentially been exposed to dangerous toxins when they wandered on to mine sites in the Northern Territory.

The Primary Industry department was concerned for cattle that grazed within a 100 square kilometre radius of three mine sites. Five animals were killed and had tissue samples tested for chemical contamination.

One of those animals tested positive for lead in levels above the safe limit for human consumption. Others have been tested for arsenic, mercury and cadmium.

Mr Laird last week released  ‘Glovebox Guide for Livestock Producers at risk from Gasfield contamination’  for farmers concerned that they may be financially liable for any contamination from unconventional gas activities.

 “The NT incident demonstrates that there can be unintended consequences for farm produce arising from mining activities.

“Farms that are required to give access to  mining and unconventional gas operations such as CSG are subject to competing interests that may favor mining profits at the expense of clean green food production.

“The Glovebox Guide highlights risks and damages that could arise to farm business and the food chain when CSG activities are on or nearby to productive farmland.

“Failure to assess and address these risks puts the landholder in a dangerous position in regards to liability.

“It is a criminal offence to sell food that you know is unsafe. Our hope is that this Guide will help inform farmers of the risks and actions they need to take to safeguard their farm business from contamination due to gas mining.

“The recent mining contamination shows that such a guide is timely and we encourage those producers who are potentially impacted by mining or gas to take action before their businesses and markets are put at risk.
The Glovebox Guide can be downloaded here.

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