An informed-integrity.org discussion page to stimulate awareness, discussion and appropriate action regarding lead contamination near Coal Seam Gas Fields. This page by David Fenton.
Lead Levels are Unsafe
The lead levels in some bushland water tanks near the Tara gas fields measure 2, 3 and 4 times safe standards, but government reports there is no known source for the lead in that area.
Lead measures from family water tanks - in the red zone.
Qld Tara (Coal Seam Gas fields locale.)
Lead Source - a Mystery?
"There is heaps of Lead in people's rainwater right across an entire estate. In Bushland, all the houses are building approved, (I purposely went out and found houses that were 'Mickey Mouse' to test) and still the Lead was there. … and I've got a government report that says they don't know the source of Lead in my home ...” (Sandra Bamberry, bushland estate resident near Tara coal seam gas fields, Sept 14 2016)
It seems Govt representatives say they cannot explain the source and Sandi recounted ... that the high Lead levels were not an isolated problem. (i.e. this is a known but unexplained widespread contamination, a 'mysterious-serious').
Where is it coming from?
So how does Lead mysteriously appear, at toxic levels, over wide areas?
Burning coal releases many heavy metals, including lead, to the air for deposition over a wide area.
The Linc Energy Hopeland underground coal gasification trial between Tara and Chinchilla, is a known coal burning environmental disaster.
Image from the Courier Mail
The Kogan Creek Power Station, approx 25km away mines and burns coal.
Image from Chinchilla News
Historical contamination from leaded petrol is everywhere, but concentrated where traffic was greatest.
Image from clubvw.org.au/oldart017
Coal combustion and leaded petrol are known major sources of lead contamination. But there is a little more:
Increased concentrations of Radon gas can be released to the atmosphere from coal seam gas mining. This is scientifically documented in the Tara area. (Tait, Santos & Maher Env Sc & Tech Feb 2013)
Some country ladies ... Sandi, with the help of Karen Auty of the western downs Nannas, linked elevated Radon gas from nearby gas fields as a plausible source for increased levels of radioactive Lead 210 in her soil and water as follows:
Information from the US Geological Survey shows the radioactive decay of Radon 222 gas ... to Lead 210.
"after several days ... In the atmosphere, the radon-222 naturally decays to Polonium ... which, over a period of hours/days, falls to the earth with dust and rain. A number of subsequent radioactive decays occur ... and (radioactive Lead) pb-210 ... is produced." (http://www.flettresearch.ca/webdoc4.htm)
So, the mysterious-serious wide spread Lead contamination, poisoning children like Sandi's, could certainly be linked to lead sources from the above. Lead isotope ratio analysis is used by govt to trace sources of lead contamination. And because lead 210 decays to the extremely toxic alpha radiation emitter Polonium, basic testing for increased levels may only need a sensitive alpha radiation level check of the top soil to see if that needs further looking into. (Dr Flett, a long time lead 210 dating professional says: "There may be both radioactive Pb-210 and stable lead in your water source but only the stable lead will be in high enough concentrations to be measured by normal chemical methods. The stable lead will be the agent responsible for lead poisoning. If a high concentration of Pb-210 is present in the water, it would be responsible for radiation toxicity when drunk. ... ")
Tracing the lead sources:
1 From Coal Combustion: Lead Isotope Ratio Analysis
2 From Coal Seam Gas Mining: lead 210 - Polonium 210 alpha radiation level check.
Mystery … Solved*
CSG problem ... not yet
Radon gas continuously 'exhales' into the air from Coal Seam Gas wells and fields. It later falls to ground as radioactive Lead after the wind spreads it. Highest concentrations are expected in the (often food producing) lands of the gas fields. Wind and water will spread the Lead wider across the land and deeper into soil and the water table as time passes.
It seems possible Coal Seam Gas Lead contaminations may have been visited upon residents in and near the gas fields, and to a lesser extent the wider population. If this is the case, over time it will become worse. The best way to minimise ongoing contamination is to stop it at the source ... coal combustion and coal seam gas wells are sources of unacceptable pollutants.
* There are other possible sources, but a Lead isotope ratio analysis will settle the gas field Radon to Lead 210, cause and effect link.
If coal seam gas fields are a significant source of Lead 210 contamination then further drilling will need to be stopped while existing wells and fracked ground should be sealed as well as can be.
The Most Important Point:
Families around Tara are living with lead contaminated soil and water. Finding the exact source is secondary to dealing with this.
Sandy's family and others in the Tara area need clean water. The town of Tara does not have pottable water. Families are living with lead contaminated dust while washing their hands and cooking with bottled water much of the time. (At least when they have it)
Image from: https://www.animalfriends.co.uk/blog/fresh-water/
If the people want something then it is almost 100% certain the people will have to make it happen, and the simplest solutions are often the best. It would be simplest for people to move out and live somewhere without contamination, but financially this is not possible.
However ... we can improve the water contamination situation in the meantime.
The most immediate need is clean drinking, cooking and washing water.
It may be most efficient financially and physically for trucked clean water to be supplied to a few tanks in the rural estate Sandi lives in as central sources of lead free water for drinking and cooking?
Things to possibly think about for action.
How far away is the nearest clean water for trucking? (Perhaps we should ask the CSG companies for a pipeline for clean water?)
How much will a truck load cost?
Surely if people are paying for bottled water it would be cheaper to work together and truck in good water to share?
Would someone well known and trusted in the Tara area like to set up a donation and/or some financial co-operation activities to start dealing with getting clean water?
Donations for chemical testing:
Sandra has account details for donations towards chemical testing in the Tara area on her community meeting FB page: https://www.facebook.com/pg/CommuntyMeeting/posts/?ref=page_internal
Donations for buying water:
If Tara locals set up an account or method for water donations, a link will be shared here as they wish.