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MP Calls Halt on Lead Shipments Until Sampling Dispute Resolved

Greens MLA Adele Carles has warned that the public can have little confidence in Magellan and its claims of transparency following news that the first lead shipment passed secretly through Fremantle in the last two days.

Ms Carles said the secretive way Magellan has gone about this first shipment is cause for grave concern.

“The people of Fremantle were not made aware when this shipment was going to occur. Magellan announced it to the Toronto stock exchange before notifying us in WA. Despite Magellan’s claims of transparency, it has snuck its first lead shipment through without informing the people of Fremantle – there was no word about this first shipment on its website.”

The news of this first lead shipment through Fremantle comes at a time when the results of Magellan’s baseline lead testing have been called in to question.

Ms Carles said comments by Transport Minister Simon O’Brien labelling Magellan’s high baseline lead dust test results at Fremantle Port ‘spurious’ and not a true indication of lead contamination at the port show the state government and Magellan are at odds over the interpretation of Magellan’s results.

“Magellan are running with one batch test results while the government is disputing them – you have to ask who is in control of this operation,” Ms Carles said.

The extraordinary claim by Minister O’Brien came in a letter to the Member for Fremantle earlier this month in which he states “…static dust results for February 2009 would in this instance appear to be spurious as results recorded during other months prior to and after February are significantly lower”. This puts him at odds with Magellan which has set the highest recorded lead dust level as the baseline level of 1100mg/kg and has said it will take no action unless lead levels at the port rise above this level.

“What a debacle – as a bare minimum the National Environmental Protection Measure Health Investigation Level of 300 mg/kg for residential purposes should be the baseline trigger, given the risk of the south westerly breeze blowing lead dust across residents and visitors in Fremantle. It is no longer appropriate to treat Fremantle Port as an industrial zone” says Adele Carles.

“This Minister’s letter indicates how the Government will deal with any lead contamination. They may simply label any high readings as ‘spurious’ or as ‘lab errors’. How can such a critical matter still be in dispute while the lead shipments are already leaving Fremantle.”

Ms Carles said that it could then be up to 12 months before any of the monitoring data is released to the public. By then, its entire 21,000 metric tonnes lead stockpile will have been shipped through Fremantle. This lead mine is estimated to operate for at least a decade.

“Magellan is only required to formally report on the findings of the Health Hygiene Environmental Monitoring Program once every calendar year, and a lot could go wrong in 12 months” she said. “We need to remember that Magellan managed to contaminate Esperance with lead carbonate within an 18 month period.”

“We want the shipments halted until this baseline debacle is resolved ” Ms Carles said.

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