Residents await uranium contamination test results

DELAY: Test results were expected back on Thursday, but were not forthcoming. The Deparment of Health can't make a definitive call on the health risks until it sees the results. Photo: Gareth Gardner 070916GGD03

DELAY: Test results were expected back on Thursday, but were not forthcoming. The Deparment of Health can't make a definitive call on the health risks until it sees the results. Photo: Gareth Gardner 070916GGD03

TWO weeks after it was revealed Kootingal and Moonbi’s water was contaminated with uranium, residents are no closer to knowing the full impact of their exposure.

On September 8, The Leader reported the villages had been swapped from groundwater to town water, after Tamworth Regional Council found elevated levels of uranium in one of Kootingal’s four bores.

The NSW Department of Health ordered council to conduct more tests on all the bores, which were expected back on Thursday – but are yet to emerge.

The Department can’t determine what the potential health risks are until the results are in.

On Friday, September 16, council issued a statement which said “the additional test results are expected on 22 September”, at which time council would “provide an update to residents”.

The Leader understands the tests are being conducted by a third-party laboratory.

So far residents have been assured the amount of uranium found, 32 micrograms per litres, is not enough to cause acute symptoms.

The Australian Drinking Water Guidelines recommend investigating anything above 17 micrograms.

At that level, the guidelines suggest a 70kg person would have to drink two litres a day for 70 years to suffer adverse health effects.

But questions remain over the effect on babies, infants, pregnant women and women breast feeding.

CHILD CONCERN: Moonbi mum Kelly Fox with her daughters,  Ayla and Evie. Photo: Gareth Gardner 080916GGA06

CHILD CONCERN: Moonbi mum Kelly Fox with her daughters, Ayla and Evie. Photo: Gareth Gardner 080916GGA06

The Leader spoke with a number of Kootingal and Moonbi parents who were concerned about the lack of information surrounding the potential health risks – if any – to children.

Once the results do arrive, further testing may be needed to narrow down the specific type of uranium in the water, which would determine its potential radiation.

The elevated levels were first detected by council during routing testing on July 15.

A second test was carried out on August 19 to confirm the findings, and four days later the water supply was switched. It wasn’t until three weeks later that council informed the 1100 homes directly affected.

WHAT'S THE RISK: Melanie Tulley and her four and a half-month old son Chayce at their Kootingal home. Photo: Gareth Gardner 080916GGA02

WHAT'S THE RISK: Melanie Tulley and her four and a half-month old son Chayce at their Kootingal home. Photo: Gareth Gardner 080916GGA02

The additional test results are expected on 22 September, at which time Tamworth Regional Council will provide an update to residents. - Tamworth Regional Council

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