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|August 22, 2000||
Greenpeace kicks off anti-Olympics protest
Environmental group Greenpeace on Tuesday kicked off its pre-Olympics protests by spelling out the word "TOXIC" in a giant crop circle near the main Games venue.
The unusual stunt in a field near the Olympic stadium at Homebush Bay in Sydney's western suburbs was a bid to show that more needed to be done to clean up the site, which was used as a dumping ground for poisonous dioxin between 1949 and 1976.
The cut crop circle -- measuring half the size of a football field with an arrow next to it pointing to the Olympic site about three km (two miles) away -- was designed to be visible to passengers flying in to Sydney.
About 25 activists used grasscutters to carve out the word in a dis-used field formerly the site of a chemical factory which produced dioxin.
Greenpeace claims the New South Wales state government has not done enough to live up to a 1997 commitment to stage a "Green Games" from September 15.
"There is a sense of urgency now...clearly that deadline will be missed," said Greenpeace activist Matt Ruchel.
"We want the millions of visitors to Sydney's Green Games to know that just two-and-a-half kilometres from athletes and spectators remains one of the most polluted waterways in the world," Ruchel said in a statement.
Greenpeace campaigners clad in protective suits also inspected 69 barrels of hazardous waste at the old factory site across a river from Homebush Bay. The group claims some of the drums are corroding due to prolonged storage.
Sydney Games organisers have spent A$137 million (US$80.8 million) at Homebush Bay and to make Games venues energy efficient in a bid to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Government documents show Homebush Bay was used as a dumping ground for dioxin, a key ingredient of the Agent Orange defoliant used during the Vietnam war.
Carcinogenic dioxin was produced at the Union Carbide chemical factory near Homebush Bay and waste was buried in landfills or scattered above ground.
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