Tasmanian Times

Environment

Come clean!

The submission to the Federal AMA through the Tas AMA was a briefing paper and never stated to be anything else.
It focused on cancer data and neurological cases that had been difficult to explain clinically in this area – the “soft data” was excluded as we felt it was too hard to quantify at present.

However the AMA felt our data collection and organisation, and our methodology was fatally flawed and so disregarded the cancer and neurological data.

Nevertheless, they felt that the problems identified were real and needed addressing nationally using water quality as the main thrust.

We still have not received a report on our “problematic methodology” (despite several requests) and had no calls from the Fed AMA committee to explain or discuss our concerns, including the toxicity testing. Be that as it may, there are several major concerns that are left unanswered:

* How is the average GP/doctor best alerting public health authorities to real concerns and how should these be dealt with by authorities?

It is now a year down the road since I raised issues and I feel that many have not been addressed. We still do not have the report by a toxicologist who was going to assist with some of the cases.

* Samples taken from the river just upstream of the drinking water intake pipe proved to be toxic. This is the second lot of samples that show this. What is being done to identify the toxin? Is it in the ground water? What is the relevance to human health if we do not know what the toxin is?

Do other rivers show the same problem? Is the testing for individual chemicals the best way to demonstrate that the drinking water is clean and safe to drink? How do we know what chemicals to test for if we don’t know what chemicals are in the catchment?

* What has happened to the precautionary principle? Do we just talk about it now, rather than ensure that it is part of our approach to risk?

Is the health of our communities (in it’s broadest sense) not our number one priority?

If science can direct us down an exact path and can be shown to be consistent and correct, then lead on. If there is reasonable doubt as to it’s ability to give the full story, then caution must enter.

To do otherwise is foolhardy. Remember the old maxim – “First of all, do no harm.”

Alison Bleaney OBE is an East Coast GP

Earlier:
Water … and chemicals

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. alison bleaney

    February 16, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    Questions as relevant today as they were in March 2005.
    Still no action has been taken and no evidence of increased caution in approach to chemical usage or policy.

  2. David obendorf

    March 10, 2005 at 6:02 pm

    Marcus Scammell, Alison Bleaney, David Leaman and myself were invited to address a public meeting in St Helens after the broadcast of the Sunday program (September 2004)concerning the possible contamination of the town’s water supply and Georges Bay by harmful chemicals.

    At the meeting I proposed that the Menzies Research Institute UTAS be invited to conduct an independent epidemiological assessment of any unusual clustering of health conditions (cancers, neurological conditions, organ system failures etc) within the St Helens area.

    I even asked David Llewellyn, the Minister for Health who also addressed the gathering to consider this approach. It seemed like a fair way of getting an independent, authoritative epidemiological review done by an organisation with the credibility and expertise to do it justice.

    I guess the reason it wasn’t called for and the reason why the report compiled by Dr Alison Bleaney and Dr Marcus Scammell has been rejected comes down to a perennial staking horse of Tasmanian politics……denial.

    Practically speaking, this type of political delay and obfuscation works because it buys time. Time to react and get systems in place and hope that people have no recollection of underlying history.

    Another word for it is arrogance.

  3. Russell Vandenbergh

    March 10, 2005 at 7:39 am

    Continued congratulations to you Doc. Where was bravery and courage invented? Just remind me…

  4. Dave Groves

    March 8, 2005 at 11:42 pm

    Good for you Alison!

    You have done well.

    Why all that is good and true is stifled in this state is a mystery.

    Keep up the good work.

    Dave

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