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MEDIA RELEASE – Thursday 23rd December 2010

Tasmanian lead mining town – response to claims of heavy metal poisoning

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Some residents of the small, lead-mining town of Rosebery, on the west coast of Tasmania, have claimed that they have been poisoned by heavy metals, including arsenic and lead. The LEAD Group published an e-newsletter mainly devoted to their claims, in June this year, entitled “The view from the trenches.

Various organisations, including the Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), have put together a response, aimed at refuting the claims, and published today by The LEAD Group. By invitation, the Deputy Director of DHHS, Dr Chrissie Pickin, guest-edited the newsletter.

The LEAD Group has entitled the current newsletter “The view from the ramparts,” because several articles have been written by officials, including from the mine itself.

Publisher, Elizabeth O’Brien says ‘We could have called the earlier newsletter “The view from one side,” and the present newsletter “The view from the other side,” but this would have been quite anaemic, and unrepresentative of the vigour with which the articles in both newsletters have been written. The LEAD Group has published both newsletters in good faith, whilst maintaining that the “truth”, whilst it may be out there, cannot be established by an on-line newsletter.’

‘Some things have been done in Rosebery to mitigate the effect of lead and heavy metals on residents: improvements in dust monitoring, a proposed health plan for Rosebery, reduction in dust from the mine, for example. This newsletter aims to inform residents.’

‘The article “Heavy Metal Gardening”, has information which will assist residents of Rosebery and elsewhere, in growing vegetables whilst avoiding contamination by lead. A ceiling dust removalists’ training course by the Australian Dust Removalists Association (in Sydney) is also advertised, which would be of benefit to local tradespeople.’

‘In our role of bringing together news about lead poisoning and prevention, we’ve summarised the following’, said Ms O’Brien:

‘Air reaching California from Asia has been found to contain lead; Prof Paul Ehrlich warns of the accumulation of man-made chemicals in living tissue; Germany sets new standards for blood lead levels, and has determined that no exposure to lead is safe. Our new lead policy, just published, builds on what Germany has pioneered. The World Health Organisation has just declared that IQ loss occurs in children at half the blood lead level that the Australian health department has set as the goal for all Australians to be below.’

Contact: Elizabeth O’Brien, Publisher, LEAD Action News, Australia
Phone mobile 04311 84933, 02 9716 0014, Freecall within Australia 1800 626 086 ###

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