Lead in wa­ter test­ing hits schools

Hills Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Sarah Brookes

ED­U­CA­TION Min­is­ter Sue Ellery says she is “an­gry” test­ing of lead lev­els at new pub­lic schools was not com­pleted be­fore the start of the school term on Wed­nes­day.

Bot­tled wa­ter was de­liv­ered to five new schools open­ing in Perth af­ter el­e­vated lev­els of lead were found in the tap wa­ter.

Re­sults from wa­ter test­ing at Dou­ble­view Pri­mary School and South­ern Grove Pri­mary School were re­ceived on Thurs­day and showed no el­e­vated lev­els of lead.

How­ever, the Ed­u­ca­tion Depart­ment was await­ing re­sults of tests at Ave­ley North and Rapids Land­ing pri­mary schools yes­ter­day, as well as Ave­ley Sec­ondary Col­lege.

On Tues­day evening, the Ed­u­ca­tion Depart­ment and min­is­ter’s of­fice were un­able to con­firm to Com­mu­nity News whether re­sults for test­ing lead at the new schools had been com­pleted.

Ms Ellery said the test­ing had not been im­ple­mented by Ed­u­ca­tion and Build­ing Man­age­ment and Works in time to generate re­sults by the start of the school year.

“I am deeply, deeply dis­ap­pointed that when my of­fice checked last week that I was not ad­vised there was even a pos­si­bil­ity that we would not meet the dead­line,” she said.

“I think given the an­nounce­ment made in Oc­to­ber last year, if there was any ques­tion that we could not get this in­for­ma­tion by the start of school to­day, I should have been ad­vised by the Ed­u­ca­tion Depart­ment.”

Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion di­rec­tor gen­eral Sharyn O’Neill said re­sults re­ceived from wa­ter test­ing at six new pub­lic schools found no ad­verse sam­ples in any drink­ing out­lets.

“Ini­tial tests con­ducted by the Depart­ment of Fi­nance’s Build­ing Man­age­ment and Works found some taps in work ar­eas, such as ex­ter­nal hose taps and work sinks, showed slightly el­e­vated lev­els of lead. Sub­se­quent test­ing, how­ever, showed no el­e­vated lev­els in wa­ter from these taps,” Ms O’Neill said.

“Any taps with in­con­sis­tent re­sults will be off-lim­its to stu­dents and staff while fur­ther test­ing is un­der­taken.

“While I am await­ing the re­sults from the re­main­ing schools, I have been re­as­sured by health of­fi­cials that short-term con­sump­tion of the drink­ing wa­ter poses no health risks.

“How­ever, 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.”

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