Health Of Geraldton Residents Put First

Health Of Geraldton Residents Put First

Western Australia Minister for Transport Troy Buswell

Lead Exports From Geraldton Port Suspended

Victor P Taffa

Lead Exports from the Geraldton Port have been Suspended as a Precautionary Measure following results of monitoring which showed one incident of lead levels in excess of the Port’s Environmental Licence Limit.

Transport Minister Troy Buswell visited Geraldton today and said there would be no further shipments of lead through the port until the State Government was satisfied that there was no health risk to residents and that improved monitoring and reporting systems had been implemented.

“The State Government’s primary concern is for the health of the people of Geraldton and, as such, the Department of Health will carry out further testing early in January to compare against data previously collected in 2007.” Mr. Buswell said.

“While I am assured the unacceptable lead sulphide reading during a 24-hour period on October 22 and October 23 was an isolated case caused by high wind, the State Government is not prepared for lead shipments to recommence until it can assure Geraldton residents that their health is not at risk.”

“I am advised the volumes of lead being shipped are not deemed to be large and that there are only four shipments per year.  Each of the shipments carries approximately 5,000 tonnes of Heavy Precious Metal, comprising 30-40 % lead.” Mr. Buswell said.

“While I don’t believe there is cause for panic or alarm, we are taking a cautious approach.”

The Minister said he was informed this week that one result from the October 22 and October 23 monitoring at the port showed a level of lead of 4.2µg/m³ as total suspended particles, which is in excess of the port’s licence limit of 0.5 µg/m³. This recording was taken at one of the port’s three monitoring stations.

“Since learning of the results the Geraldton Port Authority (GPA) and the company involved, MMG, met with the Department of Environment and Conservation and agreed to implement a range of corrective actions, including the suspension of lead shipments, to prevent a repeat of this occurrence.” Mr. Buswell said.

“Lead concentrate exports will only recommence once the Government is satisfied the risk of further breaches of environmental guidelines have been mitigated through the implementation of better procedures and structural improvement.” Mr. Buswell said.

A 2007 Department of Environment and Conservation investigation into the GPA’s handling of metal concentrate confirmed compliance with the required standards. The Department of Health also tested for lead in the area in 2007 and did not identify any risks to humans or the environment.