LEAD Action News
Vol 2 no 3
Update on the Lead Issue from Newcastle
Theresa Gordon, Vice President, NO-LEAD
The past year has been a hectic one for the NO-LEAD group. The State Government's Lead Issues Paper recommended nine working parties to deal with the various aspects of the lead issue eg. Air, Water, Food etc.
NO-LEAD contributed to five of the nine working parties concentrating mainly on lead in air.
Did it do any good?
Well, although the reports were finalised by January 1994, no action or comment has been forthcoming from the State Government. In the words of the EPA's Director-General, "They have disappeared into the black hole of Cabinet."
On a Federal level, it appeared that all initiatives stemming from Ros Kelly's Round Table Conference on lead disappeared along with Ros. It was very helpful that local MPs Jeff Hunter and John Mills took our concerns about this to the new Minister for the Environment, Senator Faulkner, in June this year. This action was much appreciated by NO-LEAD and the National LEAD Group.
On June, 1-3 this year, Newcastle hosted the National Lead Abatement conference. This was a very successful event and much was learnt by all attending. It was notable that of all the smelting towns throughout the world, discussed at the conference, Boolaroo stood out as having the least money and action given to solving the problems of lead contamination. This is a disgrace considering the conference highlighted the definite health effects caused, especially to children, by low level lead exposure.
I was asked to give an address as a community representative to the given topic of 'Barriers to Community Action and Motivation'.
One of my main points was that I saw the Pasminco Community Newsletters as a powerful manipulative tool that has worked to disempower those in the community who seek improvements. It is my view that the community has been led to believe that the lead problem is not a major issue. I felt that actions of government bodies have done little to help the affected community. Instead they have only acted to cover their various legal concerns. I also stated that the Public Health Dept. should have more power to act when public health is threatened as it is with the lead issue.
Pasminco's long awaited EIS for production increase should be ready for public display by the time this Newsletter is distributed. NO-LEAD will of course be making comment on the EIS and will offer our opinion at the Commission of Inquiry when that arises. What do we expect Well this EIS, in our opinion, should have been done before the first upgrade, but the Lake Macquarie Council thought this to be unnecessary. Therefore, the problems that have already arisen from the first expansion are now problems for the Council to deal with after the fact, which is disadvantaging for the community. One of the major problems is the Buffer Zone. The Buffer Zone was the EPA's condition to approval of the Pasminco expansion. What did the EPA define as a Buffer Zone No one knows!
NO-LEAD stated in the 'Living with Lead' Document that if the Buffer Zone was not properly defined and debated before it went ahead it would be wrought with social, moral and legal problems.
The Council is only now realising what we meant. There are also increased noise problems; lead in air problems and monitoring problems, all of which the Council thought fit to overlook on approval of the first stage of the upgrade. §
The problem [of lead poisoning] is so well defined, so neatly packaged, with both causes and cures known, that if we don't end this social crime, our society deserves all the disasters that have been forecast for it.
Rene Dubos, cited by the Alliance to End Childhood Lead Poisoning §
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Updated 13 November 2012