Revelations that high levels of lead have been found in the water at Perth’s new children’s hospital have further embarrassed building giant John Holland and the WA government seven weeks after asbestos was found on the site.

John Holland is yet to find out the cause of the toxic material, but in a statement said metallurgical testing had ruled out taps and valves it is responsible for.

However Master Plumbers Association of WA chief executive Murray Thomas said it was highly unlikely that mains water that the Water Corporation quality tested and put out would have lead in it before it got to the hospital site.

“I am not pointing fingers at the moment … but I would suggest it’s possibly not the water supply, I’m just thinking about the products in the water supply system,” he said.

“It’s just unbelievable, lead just doesn’t happen in water supplies in Australia or the world at the moment, it’s mindboggling.”

He said the products at the site needed to be inspected to make sure they were WaterMark compliant with plumbing standards, especially if Chinese-made, as the roof panels found to contain asbestos were.

WA had just eight plumbing inspectors compared to more than 30 in the past, Mr Thomas said.

John Holland said it was using a water quality consultant to identify the cause.

WA Plumbers union secretary Brian Bintley said workers had known about the lead contamination since last month but were ordered not to talk about it.

Treasurer Mike Nahan said the children’s hospital was currently a construction site, not a hospital and he was confident the problem would be fixed.

However Dr Nahan has been one of John Holland’s fiercest critics as problems plague the hospital, including delays in its opening of at least a year, widespread problems with subcontractors not being paid and multiple products having to be replaced at a high cost.

The government will pursue John Holland for damages payments over the delays.

Opposition health spokesman Roger Cook said it was unacceptable for asbestos and lead to be anywhere near a children’s hospital and the government was mismanaging public infrastructure projects.

  • This usually happens when commissioning a new water piping distribution system if it was not flushed and cleaned properly from metals particles that remain and accumulate during installation and fitting of the metal pipes. The scenario her is the system is filled with water with very little usage and consumption,the water resided for long time and dissolved all the metals particles which made all the concentration levels of all metals shoot up during testing . Expectation is Copper and Iron concentration is high too.hence the following action can be taken ;

    1- Stop using the water for drinking.
    2- Flush thoroughly all the water taps in the hospital for 6 to 10 hours.
    3- If the water is stored in a tank before it enters to the hospital piping distribution system, then the storage tanks must be emptied and cleaned with fresh water.
    4- Take sample at the receiving point before entering the piping distribution system and test for pH, Cl2, Pb, Fe & Cu.
    5-Take samples from different taps inside the hospital and test for pH, Cl2, Pb, Fe &Cu.

    This will solve the problem unless the contamination is from the source.

    Another point to mention her that when testing lead using UV-VIS spectroscopy, If iron and copper concentration levels are high, it is highly likely interfered with the detection of lead and gives a false high level of lead in the sample.So, It is worth to verify the test method used for analysis of lead and ensure its credibility before releasing the results.

  • There seems to be no end to this industrial disease – its cancerous spread now endemic – and across our new hospitals. The cause is clear. Without regulation, with this followed up by rigorous auditing and enforcement, it will not abate. It will not disappear because those profiting decide to change their ways. Those who have brought in the products and those who have sold them, and those who have been willing to use them cannot all claim ignorance – the 'do not recall' defence!Mostly, there has been a cost advantage and at least suspicions would have been raised. But more likely, in many cases the facts would be known and the' profits over people philosophy' the real deciding factor. It is both scandalous and shameless that our collective governments care so little for the welfare and well-being of all Australians.

Allegion – 300 x 250 (expire Aug 30 2018)