Criticism of Pasminco expansion inquiry

Issue 

Criticism of Pasminco expansion inquiry

By Kamala Emanuel
and Shane Bentley

NEWCASTLE — A commission of inquiry, into a proposed $47 million upgrade of the Boolaroo Pasminco smelter, heard criticism on March 16 of a blood-lead survey conducted by the company and of the inquiry process itself.

The vice-president of North Lakes Environmental Action Defence (No Lead), Theresa Gordon, said the public authorities had inadequately responded to both the public-participation process and the questions put by No Lead. Gordon said the problem has increased community scepticism about the inquiry process.

The methodology used in a blood-lead survey issued by Pasminco-Metals Sulphide was questioned by Dr Rosemary Aldrich, manager of the Hunter Area Health Services' lead studies.

The Pasminco survey claimed that blood-lead levels of Boolaroo adults were no different from levels in other Hunter areas. The survey compared a voluntary blood-lead survey of Boolaroo people with 2000 smelter contractors living outside the area.

Aldrich criticised the survey, saying it did not represent the blood-lead levels within the community. Further criticism of Pasminco's environmental impact statement was made by Dr Chris Winder, toxicology lecturer at the University of NSW. Winder said the company had taken a cynical approach to many of the environmental issues.

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