Townsville Port still battling lead pollution

Guest post by Charlie McColl. Charlie is NQCC’s representative on the Port Stakeholders Working Group.

New data coming from updated monitoring equipment at the Townsville waterfront appears to confirm long-held community concern about heavy metal pollution being carried in dust emanating from the state-owned Port of Townsville. Continue reading “Townsville Port still battling lead pollution”

Paperbark: February 2016 – the monthly e-news of NQCC


In this issue: Welcome back; Feeling the heat; NQCC News in brief; Carmichael Mine; Contaminated dust deposition; Water issues; A GLOBAL agreement on climate change – Paris December 2015; Divestment – Westpac commitment, Market Forces ‘Burned’ Report; improved SuperSwitch; Decarbonisation – Inspiration for Action; Earth Hour; Townsville Against Live Export; Turning clicktivists into real-world activists; Diary Dates. Continue reading “Paperbark: February 2016 – the monthly e-news of NQCC”

Port Stakeholder Working Group – Toxic dust Update

Charlie McColl and Wendy Tubman represent NQCC on the Port Stakeholder Working Group (PSWG) formed following findings of high levels of heavy metals in urban spaces in proximity to the Townsville Port.

Overall, NQCC is pleased to report that the Port Stakeholders Working Group is functioning well.

Key reportings from the October 2015 meeting of the PSWG are:

Continue reading “Port Stakeholder Working Group – Toxic dust Update”

Townsville dust study in international journal

Unknownpaper on contaminated dust in Townsville, based on the research undertaken by Professor Mark Taylor at the request of North Queensland Conservation Council (NQCC) late last year, has been published online in Science of the Total Environment, a critically recognised publication from the prestigious Elsevier Publishing House.

Acceptance into this peer-reviewed journal gives the findings yet more credibility, and calls into question the Port’s dismissal of the report’s findings.

NQCC is still awaiting a formal response from the State Department of Environment and Heritage Protection and Queensland Health, but are hopeful that, after meeting with the Minister and senior staff in his Department in Brisbane, the State response will be forthcoming soon.

Toxic dust found in children’s playgrounds in Townsville

UnknownDust containing levels of lead, arsenic and cadmium in dust that exceed trigger levels set for mining locations in Queensland has been found at four public children’s playgrounds in inner Townsville. The data come from research commissioned by NQCC and undertaken by Macquarie University’s Professor Mark Taylor.

Nickel levels in the dust failed to meet international standards.

While the levels for lead are not as high as levels found in the mining and/or smelting towns of Broken Hill, Port Pirie and Mt Isa, they are well above (sometimes more than double) the levels used in Western Australia to assess areas accessible to children.

There is no Australian standard for nickel levels in dust, but the levels found in this study exceed the German standard. It is worth noting that the German standards are used for dust deposition limits and trigger values by the Mt Isa Mines Environmental Authority.

While less is known about the health impacts of nickel compared with lead, it is known that nickel can affect respiratory function and skin condition.

A free public meeting to discuss the findings will be held at the Education Central Lecture Theatre, Bldg 134 at James Cook University at 6.30pm on Thursday 11 December.

To read the report (as revised on 9 February) click Atmospherically Deposited Metal and Metalloid Dust Contamination in Inner Townsville _FINAL_REVISED FEB 9th 2015.