LEAD Action News
LEAD Action News Volume 13 Number 4, June 2013, 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.
Editorial Team: Elizabeth O’Brien, Zac Gethin-Damon, Hitesh Lohani, Shristi Lohani and David Ratcliffe

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Sandringham Lead Contamination Concerns

News articles collated by Swetha Lingala, Lead Group Volunteer, and Elias Chaloui, UTS Communications Intern at The LEAD Group Inc., Edited by Zac Gethin-Damon.

Optometrist David Cockburn and his late wife Barbara lived across the road from the Dunlop lead acid battery manufacturing factory in Sandringham in Melbourne from1951, as he said on the ABC TV News on Friday 14th June 2013 (Morgan 2013).

Here are some excerpts from that news report:

Presenter Danny Morgan: “Over the years David Cockburn and his daughter Sally, a high-profile GP, became concerned about the effect on Barbara Cockburn, who died in 2005 at the age of 77.

David Cockburn: “It’s not possible to prove it, but certainly she [my wife] had an aggregation of problems and kidney failure that are attributable to lead poisoning.”

Dr Sally Cockburn: “Why was my mother’s lead level, more than the current recommended level for the community?”

Presenter Danny Morgan: “The Dunlop factory was decommissioned in the late 1980s.”

HEALTH campaigner Dr Sally Cockburn said Merindah Park contamination is of very serious community concern (Andrews 2013c)

Australia's largest lead-acid battery factory ran in George St, Sandringham from 1949 to 1989. The (Environmental Protection Authority) EPA has reported the land is contaminated with lead, asbestos and other potential cancer-causing chemicals.

Dr Sally said Dunlop first identified the lead contamination as being as high as 129,000 parts per million in 1988 yet this fact was overlooked by the local council and its environmental auditors in the 1990s. It slipped through the cracks and pollution just sat there until the storm of late 2007 when a large pine tree fell over and revealed the contamination."

An EPA audit done in August last year, and issued on Monday, informed the council they had done a very poor job. The report states that the Green Belt area still contains asbestos, lead and potentially carcinogenic polyaromatic hydrocarbons, and that other parts of Merindah Park may also be contaminated. Five years ago the Leader lead levels in the soil were 20 times acceptable levels (Awadalla 2008), with the council subsequently spending more than $1 million to clean up and cover the area with mulch. They will now have to spend their $1.5 million cash stash put aside to fix up the unhealthy mess (Andrews 2013a).

The area had been environmentally audited and confirmed safe in the 1990’s however residents raised concerns that the Green Belt may not had been subject to a similar audit. This aroused speculation on the possibility of elevated lead levels in the soil. Many assumed that the health risks were unlikely however because they required exposure to high amounts of lead over a long period of time. The council immediately mulched the Green Belt and urged nearby bore used to arrange a free test of their ground water supply.


As reported by Danny Morgan (2013), Lead contamination alarms Sandringham residents: High levels of contamination have been discovered at the site of Dunlop's old lead factory at Sandringham in Melbourne's south-east. ABC TV 7.30 Report Victoria | Duration: 6min 41sec, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-06-14/lead-contamination-alarms-sandringham-residents/4755888

Andrews. J (2013a) Bayside Council caches $1.5m in case fo Merindah Park clean-up. Bayside Leader, May 20, 2013 http://www.heraldsun.com.au/leader/bayside/council-caches-15m/story-fngnvli9-1226645452932

Andrews. J (2013b) Asbestos, lead and toxic chemicals found in Merindah Park in Sandringham, Bayside Leader, June 06, 2013 http://www.heraldsun.com.au/leader/bayside/asbestos-lead-and-toxic-chemicals-found-in-merindah-park-in-sandringham/story-fngnvli9-1226658605507

Andrews. J (2013c), Old Dunlop factory leaves a highly toxic legacy in Merindah Park. , Bayside Leader, June 11, 2013, http://www.heraldsun.com.au/leader/bayside/old-dunlop-factory-leaves-a-highly-toxic-legacy-in-merindah-park/story-fngnvli9-1226661271948

Awadalla. A (2008) Sandringham belt's dirty secret, Bayside Leader 20 May 2008 http://bayside-leader.whereilive.com.au/news/story/sandringham-belts-dirty-secret/

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