|LEAD Action News Volume
12 Number 4, June 2012, ISSN 1324-6011
Incorporating Lead Aware Times ( ISSN 1440-4966) and Lead Advisory Service News (ISSN 1440-0561)
The Journal of The LEAD (Lead Education and Abatement Design) Group Inc.
Joint Editors: Elizabeth O’Brien and Anne Roberts
Water lead results near proposed mine site spark Australia-wide tankwater quality warning
By Elizabeth O'Brien, BSc, Grad Dip in Educational Studies (Health Educ’n), Manager, Global Lead Advice & Support Service (GLASS) run by The LEAD Group Inc. Australia
Elevated lead and arsenic results in water samples from rainwater tanks, and bores / springs / groundwater near the proposed Bowdens Silver Mine Project at Lue, NSW, have led to a general warning for all Australians drinking tank water, especially from a concrete tank, to test their drinking water for lead. [Lue, in the Central Tablelands, is just south of east of Mudgee, and almost north of Lithgow. The mine will be located less than 3km from Lue.]
Prof Mark Taylor, an environmental scientist from Macquarie University (and a member of The LEAD Group’s Technical Advisory Board), confirmed community concerns about the increased lead exposure likely from the proposed open-cut silver zinc lead mine. (For the full interview on Orange Breakfast radio, broadcast June 25, or a printed summary, see: http://www.abc.net.au/rural/nsw/content/2012/06/s3534616.htm)
Groundwater from springs or bores in mineralised areas, should never be added to drinking water tanks unless first tested for lead, arsenic and other toxic metals known to occur in the local rocks. It is most important to sample the water after a dry period when these metals are likely to become more concentrated.
On 27th June, ABC Orange Breakfast radio news reported lead and arsenic exceeding the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (ADWG) in samples of filtered water from tanks or ground or surface water sources in the region of Lue.
On 28th June, Gavin Thomas, Managing Director of Kingsgate Bowdens / Kingsgate Consolidated, was interviewed on ABC’s NSW Country Hour by Leone Knight, who asked how dust would be suppressed in an open-cut mine situation, when the mine plans to produce 177 tonnes of lead over the life of the mine.
Mr Thomas said the lead will be treated and put into a concentrate and the concentrate will possibly be taken to Port Pirie, and dust suppression techniques will be used. He said “We put mats down to minimise dust during blasting, and regularly water the roads… We’ve done extensive testing of surface and groundwater as well as neighbourhood drinking water to collect baseline data. Its been known for well over a decade that there samples which exceed the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines… We believe we can monitor moving forward, and be of modest impact to the community… We’ve found two people in the area have lead in their rainwater tanks that exceed Australian Drinking Water standards.”
I spoke to Simon McDonald, Manager, New Projects, Kingsgate Bowdens, on 28th June. Mr McDonald made the following points:
Mr McDonald went on to provide information about significant new uses of silver. In my opinion, these are important enough to make it essential that the community of Lue be protected from possible lead contamination during the mining operations.
Some of the new uses of silver
(Information provided by Mr McDonald from The Silver Institute website in the USA.)
Silver as an Anti-Bacterial
This is the biggest new use of silver. Wound dressings containing silver have been an important aspect of healthcare for more than a century; soldiers in World War I relied heavily upon such dressings. Today, consumer healthcare companies like Johnson & Johnson and others offer their own lines of bandages and ointments that use silver as an active ingredient. Silver has actually been proven to promote the growth of new cells, thereby increasing the rate at which wounds can heal. And, unlike other metals with antimicrobial properties, it is not toxic to humans.
Silver in Green Technologies
…The use of silver in nanotechnology is a growing area of interest. The idea is simple: when silver is added to fabrics, appliances, carpets and air purifiers, it acts as a sterilizer, killing harmful bacteria that otherwise would have had to be treated with harsh chemicals. By reducing our reliance on potentially toxic substances, silver in nanotechnology is a major victory for green technology.
…Silver paste is used in 90 % of all crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, which are the most common type of solar cell… Over 100 million ounces of silver are projected to be used in this application by 2015.
Silver in Water Purification
Another key use for silver is in the millions of water purifiers that are sold each year. Silver prevents bacteria and algae from building up in their filters so that they can do their job to rid drinking water of bacteria, chlorine, trihalomethanes, lead, particulates and odour.
I’m particularly interested in the use of silver in solar panels because solar energy is so often stored in lead acid batteries, which are practically the only use of lead that today comes close to being safely manufactured, used and recycled in those advanced countries where environmental and occupational regulations are adhered to. If silver is not mined lead-safely, then all its environmental benefits are overwhelmed by loss in property values and the costs of managing increased heavy metal contamination.
Making rainwater from a tank, or bore water, safe for drinking:
Testing for lead and other heavy metals in drinking water:
JBS Environmental have donated to The LEAD Group, the concept, interpretation template and instructions for our DIY-sampling lab analysis kits. You can purchase one of these very useful kits from us, and be confident in the analysis which is done at a NATA-accredited lab, and in the interpretation, which I write! Phone 1800 626 086 to order a 2-sample Water Kit today. Have your credit card details ready. Cost is:
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