Esperance nickel exports safe: review

02/04/2009 - 10:37

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Residents in Esperance can breathe a sigh of relief after an independent expert review found the export of nickel through the town's port did not pose a health risk.

Esperance nickel exports safe: review

Residents in Esperance can breathe a sigh of relief after an independent expert review found the export of nickel through the town's port did not pose a health risk.

The report follows the government's decision last year to overturn a ban, imposed by the Esperance Port Authority, to export nickel through the town.

Professor John Duffus from the Edinburgh Centre for Toxicology was asked to review and comment on the Department of Health's air-quality guidelines and assess the impact of nickel exposure on the Esperance community.

Health Minister Kim Hames said the review confirmed that the guidelines developed by the department would protect the health of the community.

"As part of the assessment, Professor Duffus reviewed air-quality monitoring data for nickel in Esperance and concluded that the general population of the town would not develop any form of cancer as a result of inhaling nickel dust," Dr Hames said.

He added that the report noted deficiencies in existing port infrastructure in regard to inhalable dust levels. The Esperance Port Authority was taking steps to address these issues.

 

 

The announcement is below:

 

 

An independent expert review has found that the export of nickel concentrate through Esperance does not constitute a health risk to the local community.

The review also found the Department of Health's air-quality guidelines would protect the community from any potential health effects associated with the release of nickel dust into the air.

Professor John Duffus from the UK's Edinburgh Centre for Toxicology was asked to review and comment on the Department of Health's air-quality guidelines and assessment of the impact of nickel exposure on the Esperance community.

Health Minister Dr Kim Hames said Professor Duffus' review confirmed that the guidelines developed by the Department of Health would protect the health of the Esperance community.

"As part of the assessment, Professor Duffus reviewed air-quality monitoring data for nickel in Esperance and concluded that the general population of the town would not develop any form of cancer as a result of inhaling nickel dust," Dr Hames said.

The reports noted deficiencies in existing port infrastructure in regard to inhalable dust levels. The Esperance Port Authority was taking steps to address these issues.

Professor Duffus compared the annual Esperance air-quality guidelines against recommended guidelines of the European Union and the UK's Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

"The reports found that there is a high level of safety built into the Department of Health's air-quality guidelines and that the department's approach is consistent with world's best practice regulation," the Minister said.

"Professor Duffus noted that Western Australian health authorities take a conservative approach to protecting public health and wellbeing and that the department has dealt with the issue in a sound, scientific manner."

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