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