There has been much interest of late about the prevalence of necrotising fasciitis in the Gulf of Carpentaria. A report in the Journal of Infection by A Ralph and BJ Currie from the Menzies School of Health in Darwin reported on 4 cases of infection.
The media from that time can be found under blog category necrotising-fasciitis.
The article in question makes interesting reading. The authors made a speculative link between levels of heavy metals and the incidence of necrotising fasciitis. What is suprising is the lengths Xstrata went to in countering what the authors, in an specialised journal, acknowledged was a speculative link . Xstrata were quick to say to say it wasn’t related to their existing mine on the McArthur River; but is this a case of were there is smoke there is fire?
Xstrata continue to deny any pollution despite their own figures showing 2.5 times more heavy metals immediately downstream of the mine compared to levels in the river above the mine. Ralph and Currie’s response to Xstrata’s letter clearly identifies that
Therefore even assuming that such levels reflect natural variation in a metal rich environment, MRM’s statement in their letter that “…zinc, lead and copper levels recorded in the McArthur River are within the acceptable range under ANZECC Water Quality Guidelines” does seem to contradict their monitoring data for that period.
Unfortunately the monitoring has been so inadequate, that the question of whether pollution from the mine is affecting the incidence and/or severity of necrotising fasciitis, can neither be proven or disproven.
Even more unfortunate is the unwillingness of Xstrata and the NT Government to investigate this properly.
The original article, Xstrata’s response and the authors response can be found below