The Western Australian Government has noted the finding of elevated levels of lead in the feathers of birds from the area surrounding the Esperance Port in October 2007.
Environment Minister David Templeman said that while lead would continue to be found in the environment for some time, there was substantial evidence that levels had decreased in the nine months since the Conservation Council WA’s (CCWA) tests.
“The Department of Environment and Conservation is continuing extensive environmental monitoring, including air, soil and vegetation testing,” Mr Templeman said.
“Bird feather lead levels reported in the CCWA report were in the lower range of those in DEC samples taken from March 2007 and since then, a range of monitoring indicates a declining presence of lead in Esperance.
“Extensive soil testing by DEC showed that lead levels in the community are well below relevant health guidelines and air monitoring at the port and around the town now reports similar results.
“The department has also appointed an independent consultant to undertake a health and ecological risk assessment of Esperance, which should indicate if there is a health risk to the community and any action that may be required in terms of further clean-up.”
Mr Templeman said the department would continue to work with CCWA on bird monitoring, and had offered to refund analytical costs of the October 2007 sampling and fund future chemical studies on feathers on behalf of Locals for Esperance Development.”
Health Minister Jim McGinty said the Health Department’s voluntary blood lead level testing also showed improvement
“In the two most recent rounds of testing, no children have been shown to have levels of Magellan lead above 5mcg/dl,” Mr McGinty said.
“Rainwater tank testing also show a declining presence of lead.”
Planning and Infrastructure Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the Esperance Port Authority had done a lot of clean-up work since October 2007, and was expected to complete a comprehensive cleanup of the port in August 2008.
“The port has substantially increased its dust monitoring and publishes all results on its website, which shows airborne lead is no longer detectable and falling nickel levels,” Ms MacTiernan said.
“Lead is no longer being exported and that remaining at the port has been secured until arrangements for its removal are finalised.
“Esperance Port is also upgrading its bulk loading facility to improve the handling of nickel ores.”
Ms MacTiernan said the Government’s monitoring, sampling and clean-up activities were continuing.
Environment Minister's office - 9220 5050
Health Minister's office - 9422 3000
Planning and Infrastructure Minister's office - 9213 6400