LEAD Action News
LEAD Action News vol 8 no 3, 2001, 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.

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Worst Case Lead Poisoning and
Tasmanian Government Inaction (continued)

By Elizabeth O'Brien, Manager, Lead Advisory Service Australia
Edited by Paul Spencer, activist and roving volunteer

Parliamentary Representation

Also that day, Liz Canning of the Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment, together with Dr Bicevskis wrote a brief for Mrs Jackson (pers comm with Liz Canning 16 Nov 2000) which stated, among other things:

Approximately twenty samples [in total] of soil, dust and water were taken in the homes and yards of the families with elevated lead in blood levels [from the Menzies Centre West Coast study]. These results did not indicate a clear source of lead in the local environment, but a number of families were found to be living in homes with exposed lead-based paint, a known cause of elevated blood lead levels in children."

Without saying whether investigation of heavy metal contamination of soil was being carried out on the West Coast, the brief states that "A number of [environmental] studies are being carried out on the west coast as follows: National Pollutant Inventory, Savage River Mine, and Mount Lyell Mine". According to Liz Canning (pers comm 16 Nov 2000) there is no data on heavy metals in soils other than those included in the 20 samples mentioned above. Mark Dawson, Environmental Officer, Copper Mines of Tasmania [the operators of the copper mining at Queenstown] stated that his company does not have any soil monitoring data at all and that for the current mining activities, they have an agreement with the Tasmanian government that their mining company is not responsible for any previous contamination from copper mines in the area. He also said that Wojciech Grun of Mineral Resources Tasmania [previously called the Mines Department] has done some soil samples for a map he is producing on acid mine drainage (pers comm 16 Nov 2000).

As an example of the inadequacy of the National Pollutant Inventory (NPI) data, the only heavy metal emission listed for Copper Mines of Tasmania on the NPI website www.npi.gov.au/ is that in June 1999 (the only month for which any data is reported), the mine emitted 0.0062 kg of cobalt and compounds to the air. There is no report for any heavy metals emitted to land or to water.

Yet the ministerial brief's RECOMMENDATION is that "The above studies indicate that investigation of heavy metals in the environment is occurring on the West Coast. The human health studies have not indicated the need for further community wide environmental assessment."

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