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Carles calls for Health Minister to Intervene in Dredging

Fremantle MLA Adele Carles has called on Environment Minister Donna Faragher to call an immediate halt to the dredging of Fremantle Harbour.

Fremantle Ports yesterday released results showing that lead and copper have been detected in the river water samples just near the Fremantle Traffic bridges at levels exceeding the Moderate Ecological Protection limit.

At the same time, the Port advised the public that it was safe to swim in the dredged waters.

“What an extraordinary claim for the Ports to make just as they release results showing exceedences of lead and copper in the water samples,” Ms Carles said.

“The results show that arsenic, cobalt and vanadium levels are also rising in the water of the inner harbour. If humans come into contact with these toxicants through swimming, it is possible that negative health impacts could be triggered, particularly in young children, pregnant women and the elderly.”

The Greens Member for Fremantle said it is time for Health Minister Kim Hames to intervene and order a full Health Impact Assessment to be urgently undertaken by the Health Department to establish the risk to human health posed by dredging, particularly in light of the Port declaring it’s safe to swim in these waters.

“This should have been done prior to final approval for the dredging. The failure to consider the health impacts here is a glaring omission and evidence of the cavalier attitude to the risks posed to human health,” Ms Carles said.

“The river looks like pea soup with the dredge sludge in it – we now know that contaminants are present. Is it safe for children to swim in this? Is it safe for them to dive into the river submerging their heads? I doubt it. As a precaution, I wouldn’t take my children there to swim.”

“The Minister for the Environment has the power to direct the EPA to re-assess this proposal more fully and publicly. I am calling on her to use her power to halt the dredging so that the EPA can properly assess the environmental impacts on the river.”

“At the same time, Dr Hames should have the project referred to the Health Department for a Health Impact Assessment so that the risk to human health from recreating in and around the waterways can be assessed,” she said.

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