Chil­dren’s hospi­tal safe to open: build­ing boss

The West Australian - - NEWS - Dy­lan Ca­porn

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.

Pic­ture: Nic Ellis

Lind­say Al­bon­ico ar­rives at the in­quiry yes­ter­day.

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