LEAD Action News
LEAD Action News vol 11 Number 3, June 2011, ISSN 1324-6011
Incorporating Lead Aware Times (ISSN 1440-4966) & Lead Advisory Service News (ISSN 1440-0561)
The journal of The LEAD (Lead Education and Abatement Design) Group Inc.
Editor: Anne Roberts

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A critique of some of those involved in the dispute about Rosebery

By Kay Seltitzas and Isla MacGregor, Toxic Heavy Metals Taskforce Tasmania (THMTT


The outstanding issue for THMTT remains the problem for new buyers or renters of properties in Rosebery or other contaminated areas (yet to be investigated) being able to have access to information and data on the levels of contamination and advice on preventing health risks from exposure. Numerous requests to the West Coast Council, the DHHS, EPA and the Rosebery Community Reference Group about this issue have been futile. A recent reply from Chrissie Pickin did provide some insight into the possible views on this issue:

In an email sent to Kay Seltitzas on the 15th February 2011, Chrissie Pickin stated:

“From my personal perspective I would make the comment however about the different context between Lutanist and Gooseberry. Lutanist is an urban suburb with no clear links to the Superstar smelter , and so new residents are unlikely to be aware of any potential hazard relating to the legacy from this smelter. Rosebery, however, is an active mining town, and it has in the past been assumed that new residents would be aware of that fact, and seek information about the mine and its legacy – information which is believed to be readily available through the Community House and the active community meetings held by the mine owners.”

In other words, you go and live in a mining town, you get what you deserve.

This view has been expressed by many government officials associated with this investigation and is profoundly offensive and avoids the importance of the concept of “right to information”.

On the 15th February 2011 MMG posted to all Rosebery residents an Information update from the DHHS “Living with Dirty Soil” What to do if you have contaminated soil.” This pamphlet is the first pamphlet of its type to be distributed in any West Coast mining town in Tasmania providing advice about reducing risks from exposure to heavy metals, even though this would be useful for other towns that are known to have high levels of contamination.  The THMTT's view is that all new residents and buyers should have the information made available to them prior to purchasing or renting properties in Rosebery. There are several cases that we know of, where people have bought houses very cheaply in Rosebery without seeing them in person – miners and non-miners alike. Without this information, people are being denied their right to know information that is vital to protect their health, their family’s health, and any pets they have.

The perception that the Rosebery mine is an underground mine creates a false impression that pollution will be contained underground and not generate impacts above ground as is the case with open cut mining activities. The surrounding beauty and grandeur of the mountains around the west coast do give an impression of a remote and untouched environment. There is no general information provided to the tourist, would-be buyer of west coast properties of the history of impacts of acid mine drainage and pollution from previously unregulated mining activities. In the past, pollution controls for mining companies on the West Coast of Tasmania have been described as akin to those in third world countries.

Mine meetings were only held at the mine, and no residents involved in the DHHS/EPA investigation ever received any invitation to such meetings or information about reducing health risks from exposure to complex mixtures of arsenic, lead, cadmium, copper, manganese, thallium and other metals. 

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