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A Queensland plumber caught using lead solder on water pipes has put residents of hundreds of southeast Queensland properties at risk of lead poisoning.

Southeast Queenslanders who have had work done to their hot-water systems in the past five years are being urged to contact authorities.

It is believed Brett George Hogan, trading under his own name and the business Hot Water One, performed work on almost 800 properties from Hervey Bay to Logan between 2012 and 2016.

Hogan was fined $7000 in February and had his plumbing license suspended for 12 months following a complaint to the Queensland Building and Construction Commission last September.

The QBCC identified 796 properties that Mr Hogan had worked on across the Wide Bay, Gympie, Sunshine Coast, Logan and Moreton Bay regions.

QBCC commissioner Brett Bassett said 28 homes in the Hervey Bay area had been investigated, with eight of those found to have the lead solder used on their hot-water systems.

"The soft lead solder has a lead content that is above Australian standards," Mr Bassett said.

"Today, Queensland Health officials are seeking to take water samples from four of the eight properties where this product has been used."

Results on the samples are expected to be available on Friday.

Queensland Health says there is no immediate risk from lead but its effects are cumulative, meaning the longer people are exposed the worse their symptoms could be.

"Our understanding of the process is the chances of lead getting into those hot-water systems is low but not nil," acting chief health officer Dr Sonya Bennett said.

"Small levels of lead ingested over long periods of time can lead to toxicity, including symptoms like brain dysfunction, memory loss, abdominal pain, dizziness, muscle aches - so very non-specific symptoms."

The QBCC said it would make every effort to contact residents identified but people concerned about their properties should phone 139 333.

Mr Hogan is understood to be appealing his fine and suspension through the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

 

By Stuart Layt
 
  • Testing by the health department has indicated that any risk is inside the allowable parameters. Note this issue came to light in February – he was fined and license suspended. When the plumber appealed the decision to QCAT they raided his office and seized documents. It took 3 months for the use of this solder to become public. Meanwhile over 30 industry insolvencies have occurred in QLD since Christmas costing subcontractors and suppliers over $100m. The QBCC has been very adept at investigating the finances and suspending the licenses of subcontractors who have suffered losses as a result. We will all have to be careful when getting a drink from the hot water system

  • Soft soldered joints had been used for years in plumbing with no ramifications with Yorkshire copper fittings used on millions of houses through out Australia.
    Ever looked at your lead flashings on your roof which delivers' rain water to your water tank. Yes your metal corrugated iron water tank at the farm – soft soldered for over 50 years. Ever wondered were the galvanization of roofing iron ends up or the fact you are drinking tap water from an asbestos water main.
    Don't look to hard you might see the trees in the forest!

  • "Mr Hogan has been licensed in Queensland as a Restricted Water Plumber – Electrical licensee since December 2007 but had his licence suspended in February 2017."
    ( Taken from another news source )

    From what I can gather, he is using electricians solder – so from assumptions, he is an electrician who has gained a 'Restricted Water Plumber licence.

    And as for his fine – less than $10.00 per job.

    What will it cost to contact all his customers and have someone inspect all his work?
    Could not see the total cost being less than $250.00 per inspection.

  • The solder used was on storage hot water heaters this water is classed as non potable , not suitable for drinking,anyway every storage unit has a heavey metal sacrificial anode . This is designed to break down instead of the metal cylinder . Will the goverment be funding the replacement of all pipe work in housing prior to the lead solder being banned if this issue is so sensitive . Why did it 7 years and over 700 installions for this to become a issues looks like the qbcc should be the ones
    Investigated not the tradie he would have paid over $21000 in form 4 fees this goes directly to the funding of random inspections of jobs to prevent these issues .. where is the eductaion in this industry from all this funding it is cheaper to educate than to enforce .
    Please the QBCC cannot control the big end of town so this is what happens scare mongering and witch hunts .
    If the lead is so bad the goverment better start removing it from all pipe work systems in all the houses that have been installed prior to the 1990s it was still on the self with york way fittings up until a few years ago at any small hardware shop.
    Hang on boil your water in Petrie becouse untity have contaminated thousands of houses this week . Reform the QBCC into a educator not a enforcer and control the big boys from ripping little homeowners subbies off every day of the week that should be its first priorty .

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