Uranium (Information Sourced From 2011 Australian Drinking Water Guidelines)
“Based on health considerations, the concentration of uranium in drinking water should not exceed 0.017 mg/L.”
Tamworth Regional Council admits negligence after elevated levels of uranium found in drinking water
A council in the north of New South Wales has admitted negligence after residents of several towns were notified of elevated uranium levels two years after the levels were confirmed.
Hunter New England Health has reviewed Tamworth Regional Council’s latest test results of natural uranium in drinking water supplies of Moonbi and Kootingal since testing began in 2014.
It has found while the contamination was almost double the recommended safe level in some of the bores, the health implications were yet unclear.
Tamworth Regional Council Director of Water and Waste, Bruce Logan said the six monthly test results conducted since 2014 should had raised alarm bells sooner.
“Are we negligent in relation to whether we should have taken appropriate action earlier? Well I think the answer to that is yes,” Mr Logan said.
The new figures also reveal elevated levels of uranium in Bendemeer’s backup supply of drinking water since it was commissioned last year.
The latest results exceeded the recommended safe level since testing began.
Mr Logan said the relevant people within his department had been notified about their negligence.
“Staff are always held accountable so on this occasion necessary measures have been made within staffing and within our processes so staff are fully aware of the failure and the unacceptable nature of that failure and how we can make sure that won’t happen again in the future,” Mr Logan said.
Mr Logan went on to apologise to residents in all three town for the oversight and said residents deserved better.
“I’m very sorry about that. It’s not good enough and it’s not the level of service Council should be giving,” Mr Logan said.
People should be able to be very, very confident that the water they are drinking meets the necessary compliance levels as indicated in the Australian Water Drinking Guidelines,” he said.
Local health district urging calm
Hunter New England Health’s (HNEH) Public Health Physician Dr David Durrheim said while the drinking water exceeded the recommended safe level the health implications were yet unclear.
“Some of these people will have been using drinking water which may or may not have exceeded guideline levels for a long period of time.
“But again, to stress even those levels appear higher than the drinking water guidelines, they are not at a the level we expect acute, severe health defects,” Mr Durrheim said.
He said the results should not alarm people.
“The levels detected are yes above the drinking water guidelines. Those are very conservative guideline levels and really reflect the experience where concern is for a person exposed for their life time at those levels,” Mr Durrheim said.
Within the next month, the NSW Health Department will form an expert panel to assess the ongoing and long term health risks.