Two schools cleared over lead in drinking water, tests still to come on three

Stock image.
Stock image.

STUDENTS will today be able to use tap water at Doubleview and Southern Grove primary schools after test results showed no elevated levels of lead.

The Department of Education received the advice from the Department of Finance’s Building Management and Works (BMW) overnight.

BMW has indicated that results for the remaining three schools (Rapids Landing Primary School, Aveley North Primary School and Aveley Secondary College) will be available in coming days.

Bottled water will continue to be used at these three schools until the test results are received and deemed acceptable.

On the first day of term yesterday Education Minister Sue Ellery said she was ‘angry’ testing of lead levels at new public schools has not been completed prior to the start of the new school year.

Department of Education director general Sharyn O’Neill said initial tests conducted by the Department of Finance’s Building Management and Works found some taps in work areas, such as external hose taps and work sinks, showed slightly elevated levels of lead.

“Subsequent testing, however, showed no elevated levels in water from these taps,” she said.

“Any taps with inconsistent results will be off-limits to students and staff while further testing is undertaken.

“I have been reassured by health officials that short term consumption of the drinking water poses no health risks.

“However as a precautionary measure, bottled water will be provided to those schools for drinking and hand washing until results are received and the appropriate response is developed.”

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 host 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.

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