Taps at Aveley Secondary College to be further tested for lead as other schools get all clear

Stock image.
Stock image.

TAPS showing inconsistent results for lead contamination remain shut off and isolated at Aveley Secondary College while further testing is conducted.

The Department of Education confirmed on Sunday that bottled water will no longer be required at any of the 11 newly constructed public schools after test results cleared them of elevated lead levels.

However the Department of Finance’s Building and Management Works has ordered some taps at Aveley Secondary College be re-tested after initial tests showed inconsistent results.

Final results are expected in coming days.

It was a shaky start to the new school term with bottled water delivered to five new schools opening in Perth after elevated levels of lead was found in the tap water.

Education Minister Sue Ellery said she was ‘angry’ testing of lead levels at new public schools had not been completed prior to the start of term last Wednesday.

Ms Ellery blamed public servants at Education and Building Management and Works for the debacle.

“I am deeply, deeply disappointed that when my office checked I was not advised there was even a possibility that we would not meet the deadline,” she said.

“I think given the announcement made in October last year, if there was any question that we could not get this information by the start of school, I should have been advised by the Education Department.”

This is the first time all newly constructed public schools have been tested for lead in taps.

The testing was ordered after concerns were raised last year by ChemCentre boss Peter McCafferty at a Parliamentary inquiry into the Perth Children’s Hospital which examined a suite of problems that have delayed the opening of the $1.2 billion hospital, including lead contamination in the drinking water.

The State Government has blamed the brass fittings in pipes exposed to water left stagnant during commissioning for the hospital’s lead contamination.

Mr McCafferty told the inquiry the same brass fittings at the centre of the lead problem could have been used in schools which were potentially at risk after the summer holidays.

In addition to this, all public schools, including newly constructed schools, were required to carry out an extensive flushing regime of water pipes prior to students returning to school today.

Opposition Leader Mike Nahan said Premier Mark McGowan and Ms Ellery could not simply wipe their hands of the State Government’s failure to ensure the water at all schools was safe before the school year commenced.

Dr Nahan said Ms Ellery had created fear and uncertainty in the minds of many parents because she was not across her portfolio.

“This issue did not come as a bolt out of the blue, the Opposition raised the potential for lead in new school buildings with the Government in September last year,” he said.

“It is unbelievable that in the Minister’s weekly meetings with her department that testing of lead at the new schools was not a standing agenda item until she could be reassured the testing had happened and the results were clear.”

Schools tested:

Fremantle College
Aspiri Primary School
Yanchep Secondary College
Oakwood Primary School
Wellard Primary School
Honeywood Primary School
Rapids Landing Primary School
Aveley North Primary School
Aveley Secondary College
Doubleview Primary School
Southern Grove Primary School

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