Esperance lead levels safe for humans, Golder report

Golder Associates has declared the last traces of lead carbonate dust at Esperance in Western Australia no longer pose a risk to humans.

The remnants of the lead contamination at Esperance Port in Western Australia no longer pose a risk to humans, a report from environmental consultants Golder Associates has found.

However, the consultants tested the soil, air, water, plants and organisms around the town and found the traces of lead dust were still potent enough to poison birds and insects as well as the mammals that eat them.

The Esperance townsite human health and ecological risk assessment was commissioned by the State Government after dangerous lead dust levels were detected in 2007.

All lead carbonate shipping at the port was suspended in April of that year until the miner, Magellan Metals, could demonstrate the material could be safely exported without any dust escaping.

The company’s Lead Removal Plan (LRP) was approved by the Government and completed last year.

The Golder report said dangerously high levels should no longer exist at the port, because lead was no longer being handled.

“No short-term health risks were identified for children and adults, as levels of lead in rainwater, soil or dust were not high enough to cause acute health effects,” the report said.

“No long-term health risks were identified for children and adults when realistic long-term predictions of exposure to lead and nickel were used.”

However, the report recommended further clean ups and investigations into the remaining lead in rainwater and homes.

Magellan Metals is now exporting lead mined from its Wiluna site, which had been closed due to the ban, via the Port of Fremantle.

The company hopes to fully restart production at Wiluna early this year.

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