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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 30 May 1995) . . Page.. 555 ..


contamination of former sheep dip sites. That is an issue of some sensitivity; but it is a matter, I think, about which we should not jump to conclusions. Mr Moore has a committee which is currently looking at this matter. We have exhaustive scientific work going on at the moment about that question. I would urge members not to jump to conclusions about these things before the processes have been completed.

I would also say that at no stage has Ms Jones made any formal approach to the Government to support her claim for compensation. In fact, the Government has arranged tests of the soil on her block and immediately behind, in six different places, comprising 11 separate samples. There has also been an analysis of six types of produce from her vegetable garden, an analysis of placental tissue following her most recent miscarriage, the opportunity to consult with two eminent specialists engaged to provide advice on residents' health concerns and access to ongoing counselling.

As the story last night indicated, Ms Jones and her family live on a hill, approximately 50 metres above the site of a former sheep dip in Theodore. Over the last six months, the whole area has been the subject of very extensive investigation for arsenic. In February and March, local residents were given the opportunity to nominate sampling points to address particular concerns, including the residents' belief that there may have been concentrations of arsenic under trees uphill from the dip. As a result of these tests conducted in April and earlier tests conducted last December, 11 soil samples from Ms Jones's block have been analysed. None has shown arsenic levels above the environmental investigation level set by the Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council and the National Health and Medical Research Council. The environmental investigation level for arsenic is one-fifth of the health investigation level - a very low level of arsenic contamination.

These results are similar to the results in all the backyards up the hill from the dip, where a total of 123 samples from 69 locations have now been analysed, and none has been over the environmental investigation level. Concurrently with that sampling, Theodore residents were given the opportunity to have fruit, vegetables and eggs analysed for arsenic. Ms Jones and her partner coordinated the collection of produce from the area. Following the first round of analysis, residents were advised that no arsenic had been detected at the limit of detection of the technology used. The tests were run again on more sensitive equipment, and again no arsenic was detected, although the limit of detection was 10 times lower. I am advised that a consensus of expert opinion is that arsenic is not usually taken up by vegetables, although some might be ingested if root vegetables are not washed; in other words, if you eat dirt. Of course, this is an issue only if there is arsenic in the soil in the first place.

Like all other residents in the vicinity of sheep dip sites, Ms Jones has been kept informed of the results on her block and the general results in the area. She knows that no produce has been found to have arsenic at even one-twentieth of the level of concern. While Ms Jones has made no formal approach to my department or to me, seeking compensation or relocation, officials were aware of her concerns about her history of miscarriages and arranged an early meeting between her and Professor Michael Moore - no relation, I understand - Director of the National Research Centre for Environmental Toxicology at the University of Queensland, and Dr Peter Stewart, a clinical biochemist and consultant physician at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney.


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