Perth schools directed to flush water pipes over lead contamination concerns

THE Department of Education has directed all schools across the State to thoroughly flush all water pipes supplying drinking water to reduce the risk of potential lead contamination.
Schools have been asked to work with cleaners and gardeners to ensure the pipes supplying water to drinking fountains, sinks and wash hand basins are flushed within three days prior to the start of the school term on Wednesday.
The new measure follows concerns raised by ChemCentre’s chief executive Peter McCafferty that WA schools were at risk of lead contamination because water was often left stagnant in pipes over the summer holidays.
Mr McCafferty raised the concerns at a parliamentary inquiry last year into the Perth Children’s Hospital which examined a suite of problems that have delayed the opening of the $1.2 billion hospital, including lead contamination in the drinking water.
The State Government has blamed the brass fittings in pipes exposed to water left stagnant during commissioning for the hospital’s lead contamination.
Education Minister Sue Ellery However said while there was no evidence of elevated lead levels in the water at schools, she had asked the Education Department to introduce two new initiatives as a precautionary measure.
“Following the comments made by the ChemCentre Chief Executive, the Chief Health Officer, who has responsibility for the health of students in our schools, publicly advised a stringent risk management approach is in place and it did not require changing,” she said.
“For new schools opening in 2018, in addition to the current water quality analysis, the water will be tested for lead,” she said.
“The water should be checked and if any problems are found then it must be acted upon immediately,” she said.
According to the Education Department website five new primary schools will open in the Perth metro area this year in Wandi, Piara Waters (Aspiri PS), Aveley (Aveley North PS), Meadow Springs (Oakwood PS), Southern Grove PS in Southern River and Wellard.

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