LEAD Action News
LEAD Action News Volume 16 Number 3, june 2016, 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.
Editor-in-Chief: Elizabeth O’Brien, Editorial Team: Malveek Kaur Dhaliwal, Yiru Rocky Huang, Michelle Calvert and David Ratcliffe

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Please be more responsible and transparent with Lead Contamination. Lives Matter! (Part -2)

By Michael Peter Galvin, Queenstown, Tasmania, with experience in Environmental engineering, Science, Conservation, Land and Water Management, M.Sci(EnvMan), B.Eng(Env), Cert.3.NRM, PDC

See Part 1 of this article in LEAD Action News volume 16 number 2, March 2016, at: http://www.leadsafeworld.com/lanv16n2-lead-safe-world-posters-now-available/

In one way the Leura Rifle Club (in the Blue Mountains, NSW Australia) protects the Aboriginal Site from the public because literally none had been there for a very long time. See photos (below) of the Leura Rifle Range that continues to be used despite my report and the Indigenous Elders there wanting protection, proof of lead contamination, and a Senior Archeologist who was a past Parish Priest in Lawson visited the site. He confirmed the stop butts of 70 years of rifle use is a rare traditional Ochre Mine used by Aboriginal People for thousands of years.

The hillside experiences groundwater flow and is contaminated, and there is high lead in the bottom of the creek too. This is a problem for Fresh Water Crayfish and anyone who wishes to ingest it, or if someone unknowingly drinks the fresh mountain spring water. None of the residents, except club members, that have moved in around the range in the last twenty years within 200m from the range like it and there have been a number complaints over the years silenced and no action taken to assess noise or lead. In fact the World Heritage Institute had n0t been there in 30 years and this place should really be part of the World Heritage being an Aboriginal Place with no consent to destroy, and Highland Peat Swamp on valley floors and hanging swamps that are protected under the EPBC (Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation ) Act.

Ochre mining photo: the spectrum of colours in the clay with holes where clay was dug out and traded for a very long time and used as a trading medium between different Aboriginal tribes that met in the Blue Mountains.

A cave system to the left of the rifle range large enough to keep 50 people dry with a shower at the end. There are bullet wounds from the past here, hard to see unless you look close, from another trajectory of shooting in the past. Not a lot of corroding bullets impregnated in the rocks - however they are there.

A beautiful pattern in a rock to the right of the rifle range where there is seating where the elders may have sat. This horseshoe shape was evidently created by chemical reactions over a very long time.

Evidence of corroding bullets impregnated in the rocks of the cave entrance.

We should be more responsible about preserving Aboriginal Places and Hanging Swamps and Swamps on Valley Floors which are of high conservation value. It is inappropriate to pollute a Blue Mountains Creek with lead given it borders the World Heritage National Park and fresh water crayfish inhabit the creek.

Where I live now, I’m concerned about heavy metal risks to residents from mining activities and dilapidated building or high risk paths in Gormanston, Tasmania.

Note they do not mine lead – they mine copper - but used to discharge tailings straight into the Queen River, as well as smelters in the past, and other mines contributing to acid mine drainage and heavy metals in the environment. Apparently the Oates Family however lived where there was once a car yard whereby lead acid batteries may have been discharged into the environment and there are a lot of old cars and heavy metals in the creek behind the property today.

I proposed a remediation plan at the time for the site however got no response for this. I proposed to make small check dams in the creek and use an industrial vacuum to remove the lead from the creek bottom and filter this and the contaminated hillside substrate through a hydraulic sluice and mine out the lead from the site followed by rehabilitation of the hillside with plants such as lomandra that can be pruned regularly and will help suck the lead out of the soils there. It is also recommended by a traditional owner that the site be protected from the public and preserved properly in the future. No one is to blame, it is a hard issue for anyone who is probably why it was left alone for so long and in a way the rifle range use has protected the site from the public.

Having said this there are obligations under the EPBC Act to preserve highland peat swamps, to remediate the lead contamination under the Contaminated Lands Management Act, and Native Title proposal and consent to destroy an Aboriginal Place. There are also obligations of public service to respond to residents’ complaints, especially if it affects their health and peace, land values and such like and residents should not feel silenced and ignored if they are concerned about noise, lead, and safety associated with the rifle range being so close to residential areas now. 

It is ironic that I have ended up in Gormanston next door potentially to where the Oates Family lived. There has been a long history of mining, smelters, and heavy metals in the environment including contamination of the Queen River with heavy metals, with no one claiming ownership and responsibility for it today, as well as acid mine drainage issues. 

Public Health and Ecological Sustainability is number one. Let there be peace in Tassie, and on the mainland!

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