More on Xstrata’s corporate responsibility and their attitude to heavy metal pollution…
THE Mount Isa Mines company has refused to release in-house research about heavy metal contamination in the central Queensland community.
The data would fill in gaps in surveys conducted by a team of Australian and British scientists who found lead levels in residential areas of Mt Isa were up to 33 times higher than limits set by federal guidelines.
“We’ve asked them for the reports, but nothing is forthcoming,” said Mark Taylor, an environmental scientist with Macquarie University, Sydney.
“The data would help health authorities make appropriate decisions about follow-up risk assessment on a property-by-property or area-by-area basis,” Dr Taylor said.
“We’re not going to do that,” a spokesperson for Mt Isa Mines said when The Australian asked for the research. No explanation was provided.
The EPA, however, said it was taking the matter seriously.
“The EPA is now in the process of reviewing and mapping the data. The agency will also compare it to historical soil sample results, areas previously cleaned up and geological maps of naturally high mineralisation areas,” said the spokesperson.
Last night Dr Taylor rejected Xstrata’s claim that his group’s findings were “within limits” set by national guidelines.
“The facts are what they are,” he said, noting that the sample analysis was conducted at two independent British laboratories in London.
Leigh Dayton, Science writer, The Australian, March 20, 2007