Rosebery in Tasmania is home of a lead mining operation run by Chinese company MMG.

Arsenic, lead, cadmium and other heavy metals have been found at high levels in soil, water and dust samples and some residents have shown symptoms of both chronic and acute heavy metal toxicity despite relatively low doses.

According to watchdog organisation Global Lead Advice and Support Service (GLASS) four residents have abandoned their homes out of fear of poisoning and several pets have died.

Some of the town residents now working with the Toxic Heavy Metals

Taskforce Tasmania has called on the Tasmanian government to hold an independent population-based public and environmental health survey in the town.

Former resident, Kay Seltitzas, said: “The government’s first two investigations were both seriously limited and deficient in so many ways.

“There’s a desperate need to find out what is causing the very high incidence of cancer and other chronic health problems in Rosebery and other mining towns on the West Coast.

“Children and the elderly are especially at risk and it is not acceptable for newcomers to Rosebery not to be made aware of the potential health risks from living in a mining town.”

Some 30 residents have called in public interest law firm Slater and Gordon to take up their case.

Expert witness Dr Andreas Ernst, an eminent Occupational Health and Musculoskeletal Specialist with long experience in the mining industry, has diagnosed several with heavy metal poisoning.

Elizabeth O’Brien, manager of GLASS said: “There is an urgent need for the National Health and Medical Research Council to review its guidelines in relation to health risk assessment where complex mixtures of heavy metals can expose people to long term health problems from low level exposure.”

David Gibbs

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