The manipulations and allegations of Greenpeace

Greenpeace was given the opportunity to comment how the village for the Olympic games in Sydney should be build in an environmental friendly way. They misused this opportunity to mislead the people of the Australian Olympic Co-ordination Authority by telling not to use chlorinated products, whether that is good for the environment or not. This was reflected in the green guidelines for the Sidney Olympics, which you can find at the Greenpeace Australia Green Olympics pages. To be noted in the Sydney, Australia's environmental guidelines for the 2000 Olympics: "minimizing, and ideally avoiding, the use of chlorine-based products such as PVC".

As part of their campaign, Greenpeace Australia tells a story about PVC, where they make a mix of untruths and half truths, where even specialists in the field need weeks to reply on all falsifications. See their PVC, an environmental poison. There they used a lot of comment from Europe, completely falsified or used out of context or completely outdated. You can find an answer on many of the allegations on our Chlorophiles pages, but interesting reactions were coming from Australia itself...

PVC rehabilitated

The well-known Australian governmental scientific institute, CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation), has made an investigation on the environmental aspects of the use of PVC in building products. They made an intensive search of the available scientific evidence. The aim of the study was:
"Report on whether or not the balance of reputable scientific evidence currently available supports the contention that the use of PVC in its major building product applications causes significantly more overall harm to the environment than the available commercially viable alternatives."
The report was based on scientific literature and reports by government agencies and universities throughout the world. The result of this investigation is quite simple and straight-forward:
"The adverse and environmental effects of using PVC in building products are very small, and no greater than those of other materials."
"Although little detailed comparative information is available, the balance of evidence suggests that there is no alternative material to PVC in its major building product applications that has less overall effect on the environment."
Note that the "little detailed comparative information" which is not available stand for the alternatives. PVC is the most investigated bulk product in the world, so when more investigations will be done on alternatives, they can only turn up to be worse...

As a result of this study, the Australian Olympic Co-ordination Authority doesn't give any negative comment on the use of PVC. Nevertheless the Australian government must follow the contract they have signed with the IOC.

Apart of the environmental disadvantages of avoiding PVC, the costs involved are also interesting. Sydney-based scientific consultants BIS Shrapnel Pty Ltd estimated that avoiding PVC in Sydney's Olympic facilities would add about A$ 12 million (US$ 9.48 million) to construction costs.

The reaction of Greenpeace is in line with their usual stories:

SYDNEY, Oct. 23 (UPI) Sydney Olympics use toxins. The environmental group Greenpeace says it will contact international Olympic authorities after exposing what it said was a significant breach of Sydney's pledge to deliver a "green" Summer Olympics.
In a letter to the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Hon. D. Wotton, MP, Minister for the environment and natural resources, reacted on the Greenpeace actions on October 18, 1996:
(...) I am aware of recent campaigns by organisations such as Greenpeace calling for the phasing out of chlorine-containing materials, including PVC, because of particular perceptions that chlorine itself, rather than some of its more infamous compounds, is a major environmental threat facing the world today. I recognise the importance of PVC and many other useful chlorinated materials to our modern industrialised economy and wish to assure you that the South Australian Government has no policy of restricting the use of such materials.

Not the first time...

It is not the first time that Greenpeace Australia is completely wrong with their messages. In May 1990, they spread the "fact" that they had found enormous levels of dioxin outside the pesticide factory of Nufarm in Melbourne, "100 million times greater than USA EPA standards". On ground of this message, the firm was closed for three months, pending the investigation.
The investigation costed the state of Victoria AS$ 1.5 million and the firm A$ 6 million. The results, some traces of dioxins in the parts per billion ranges, were commented by Prof. Dr. Ian Ray, as independent researcher: "The deductions that this was a danger to the health of the people of Melbourne, I think that was an exaggeration. I think there Greenpeace didn't have the facts".
Greenpeace, questioned about this matters, which they had called "the worst environmental disaster of the world" replied: "We didn't describe it as that. We said it may be one of the world's catastrophes". And they added: "Nothing Greenpeace has ever said has been proven, as far as I know, to be incorrect".


They continue...

A few weeks before the opening of the Olympics, Greenpeace released their "report" on how "green" the Olympics were in their opinion. They quoted the avoidance of PVC in the Olympic village as an 'A'. But had a lot of critique on its use for other parts. The reaction on that report of the Vinyl Council of Australian can be read in their  media statement


You are at level one of the Chlorophiles pages.

Created: October 25, 1996.
Last update: September 12, 2000.

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Left: Greenpeace and chlorine

Right: August 16, 2000: Greenpeace muddled-headedness adds $16 million to cost of the Games

For a look at our reactions on Greenpeace press releases about chlorine and PVC:

Right: March 14, 1996: PVC is a hormone disruptor according to Greenpeace USA

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