Children’s hospital safe to open: building boss
Lead levels in the water at the beleaguered Perth Children’s Hospital should not prevent it from opening, the project’s managing contractor believes.
Giving evidence yesterday to a parliamentary inquiry into the PCH project, John Holland WA region manager Lindsay Albonico said water at the hospital met Australian drinking guidelines at the time of practical completion in April.
In the weeks leading up to the State Government’s decision to take over the project, which is more than two years behind schedule and with no opening date, Mr Albonico said John Holland had concluded the hospital could open before winter.
“Based on an average testing methodology, the hospital meets required safety guidelines,” he said.
“John Holland notes that the Chief Health Officer himself recognises in his report that the test results comply with the criteria adopted by John Holland under the ADWG (Australian Drinking Water Guidelines).
“The State has elected to apply a higher standard on advice from the Chief Health Officer.”
Mr Albonico, who started his evidence by saying there were “two sides to every story”, stood by John Holland claims that the water supply going into the hospital contained lead and other heavy metals and disputed State Government arguments that the source of the lead was brass fittings.
“We have commissioned independent reports into this issue and our position remains that lead was introduced into the water at the hospital via sediment that had built up and become dislodged in the ring main, including the ‘dead leg’,” he said.
“The fittings cannot account for the magnitude of elevated lead levels recorded at various times in the hospital’s water system.
“It also doesn’t explain the fact John Holland has consistently detected lead in the hospital’s incoming water feed lines and holding tanks — which catch water prior to any contact with brass fittings.”
In a joint statement yesterday, Health Minister Roger Cook and Treasurer Ben Wyatt rejected John Holland’s position, saying it was not safe to open the hospital.
“The dead leg and ring main have been definitively ruled out as sources of lead,” Mr Wyatt said.
“Unlike John Holland, the Government has released a wealth of technical evidence that conclusively shows the source of ongoing, elevated lead levels in the PCH drinking water is leaching from brass fittings.”
Premier Mark McGowan said John Holland had not behaved well in relation to the hospital. It would “most likely” be sued.
Outside the inquiry, Mr Albonico said he did not believe legal action was “inevitable” and he hoped for talks with the Government.
Lindsay Albonico arrives at the inquiry yesterday.