Test re­sults pend­ing

Augusta Margaret River Times - - Front Page - War­ren Hately

Rapids Land­ing Pri­mary School is one of a hand­ful of new WA schools still wait­ing on test re­sults for lead in its wa­ter sup­ply af­ter con­cerns were flagged by Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Sue Ellery.

As ex­cited par­ents and chil­dren ar­rived on Wed­nes­day for their first day of school, few knew stu­dents would be sup­plied bot­tled wa­ter amid con­cerns over el­e­vated lead lev­els in wa­ter tests from non­drink­ing wa­ter sources.

Ms Ellery de­fended not clos­ing the school but blasted the Ed­u­ca­tion Depart­ment and the Depart­ment of Fi­nance’s Build­ing Man­age­ment and Works’ arm for fail­ing to clear all the new schools in time for the first day of term or ad­vise her last week a de­lay in re­sults was pos­si­ble.

Fi­nal test re­sults for Rapids Land­ing will not be known un­til next week.

The depart­ment told the Times ex­ter­nal hose taps and work sinks showed “slightly el­e­vated lev­els of lead”, and any taps with in­con­sis­tent re­sults would be off lim­its.

Ed­u­ca­tion di­rec­tor-gen­eral Sharyn O’Neill said tests had cleared six other new schools of ad­verse sam­ples in any drink­ing out­lets.

“While I am await­ing the re­sults from the re­main­ing five schools, I have been re­as­sured by health of­fi­cials that short-term con­sump­tion of the drink­ing wa­ter poses no health risks,” she said. “As a pre­cau­tion­ary mea­sure, bot­tled wa­ter will be pro­vided to those schools for drink­ing and hand-wash­ing un­til re­sults are re­ceived and the ap­pro­pri­ate re­sponse is de­vel­oped.

“I must stress th­ese mea­sures are above and be­yond what is re­quired, but we be­lieve they are an im­por­tant pre­cau­tion.”

Aus­tralian Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion WA pres­i­dent Omar Khor­shid said while the risk to chil­dren was likely to be low, lead could be highly toxic to young, de­vel­op­ing brains.

Fol­low­ing the lead-test­ing deba- cle at Perth’s de­layed new chil­dren’s hospi­tal, Capes politi­cians backed the depart­ment’s cau­tious ap­proach.

Mar­garet River-based MLC Steve Thomas said the news was “ex­tremely con­cern­ing” given the min­is­ter’s as­sur­ances in Oc­to­ber that “a strin­gent and com­pre­hen­sive wa­ter test­ing regime for pub­lic schools would be un­der­taken dur­ing the sum­mer term break”.

War­ren-Black­wood MLA Terry Red­man said no par­ent would sup­port tak­ing risks with their chil­dren’s health. All pub­lic schools were or­dered to flush wa­ter pipes be­fore stu­dents started school on Wed­nes­day.

Pic­ture: Therese Col­man

A worker de­liv­ers bot­tled wa­ter to Rapids Land­ing Pri­mary School yes­ter­day morn­ing.

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