Lead shipments halted

after contamination scare

Lucy Rickard
January 1, 2011 – 12:30PM

The Western Australian State Government has put a halt to lead shipments through the Fremantle ports, after a company allegedly breached the conditions for transporting the product.

Acting Environment Minister Peter Collier told Magellan Metals to immediately cease lead shipments through the port after advice received from the Office of Environmental Protection Authority indicated lead may have leaked from containers.

Mr Collier said the state’s environmental watchdog will be taking over investigations & looking into the matter.

“The OEPA advises there is extensive monitoring of lead contamination along the transport route from the mine to the port, and to date no Magellan lead has been detected through that monitoring program,” he said.

“However, given the environmental conditions concerning lead levels inside the containers may have been breached, it is in the public interest for shipments to cease.” Whilst the matter is investigated.

Owner and operator of Magellan Metals, Ivernia, released a statement early this afternoon detailing the company’s position on the order to halt lead movement & transportation.

“All lead concentrate produced at the Magellan Mine is transported in double-lined bags inside sealed steel containers,” the statement read.

“Extensive monitoring, sampling and analysis from close to 300 individual soil, air, and water samples sites has not shown the presence of any lead from the Magellan Mine along the road and rail route after more than a year of transport operations.

“Ivernia, along with its wholly-owned subsidiary Magellan Metals Pty Ltd, is working with government agencies to investigate the possible source of lead detected by air monitoring equipment within containers.

“The Company is focused on addressing issues that may be identified in relation to its loading operations and recommencing transport operations as soon as the issue is resolved to the satisfaction of the Government of Western Australia.”

The statement said that the order was issued to halt all lead transport after monitoring equipment installed by an independent inspector “identified the presence of airborne lead from Magellan within a small number of containers”.

“All airborne lead levels in the sealed containers were consistently below accepted occupational health levels established by the Australian National Occupational Safety and Health Commission,” the statement read.

Mr Collier said the government will wait for the formal advice of the authority before determining the long-term future of lead shipments via Fremantle.

The company was given the green light to transport lead through the area in August 2009 after it was banned from operating out of Esperance, where contamination from lead dust led to the death of thousands of birds in 2006 and 2007.

The decision to approve Magellan’s use of the port city for exporting lead sparked community outrage in the Greens-held seat of Fremantle, despite an increased monitoring of product transport.

The approval for Magellan Metals involved stringent guidelines for transporting the lead to the port included the use of double laminated and sieve-proof bags for all lead concentrate products.

Sourced & published  by Henry Sapiecha

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