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Serious Lead Levels Demand Health Investigation

Media Release - Thursday, 6 February 2020, Rosalie Woodruff MP


Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Health spokeperson

High levels of lead detected in the water supply for the new Royal Hobart Hospital K-Block building is deeply concerning news. A lead-contaminated water supply presents a critical hazard for the future hospital development, and this must be thoroughly investigated and remedied before the building is completed.

Depending on the level and length of exposure, lead contamination can result in serious health effects. Construction staff have apparently been drinking contaminated water on site for some time.

Health Minister Sarah Courtney is obliged to order an assessment into the exposure levels and possible health impacts for construction workers. Without a detailed health risk assessment, the workers who have drunk contaminated water would have unanswered questions about potential impacts on their health.

The Minister also needs to investigate whether it is true the early concerns raised by construction staff about possible lead contamination were not taken seriously.

The greatest outstanding question is how high levels of lead came to be in the new K-Block’s water supply in the first place? Minister Courtney needs to explain what steps she will take to make sure it doesn’t end up contaminating patients’ water supply in the future.