The Premier
Mr Paul Lennon
Parliament House
Hobart
Tasmania.
8 September 2006

Dear Premier,

There is some disturbing information in the DPIW “ Pesticide Monitoring and Water Catchments” website. As my concerns include the environment, water, industry, and public health I have decided to write to you in the hope that you will deal with the situation by taking urgent measures to ensure that there is no further pesticide contamination of drinking water and water used for aquaculture.

I have listed my concerns below and would be grateful if you provide answers to my highlighted questions.

My concerns include that:

Pesticides have been detected in the random grab samples of four river catchments in the July testing. The Duck River showed MCPA; the Rubicon River simazine and 2,4-D; the Brid River simazine; and the Jordan River atrazine. The tests were taken well downstream, close to the tidal limits, with no tangible relationship to pesticide use or rain events in the catchments.

The samples were taken and tested in July 2006 and the water users had still not been notified of these results in early September.

The results, I believe, were not put on the public record until early September 2006.

The levels of 2,4-D in the Rubicon — 25/7/2006 — were 6 times the guideline value (GV) for drinking water. The simazine levels were 0.18 micrograms/L (below GV). The levels of MCPA in the Duck River — 10/7/2006 — were at detectable limits. There are no GV or health value (HV) for MCPA as it is not recommended that MCPA be found in drinking water. The Brid River’s level of simazine was 0.13 micrograms/L (below GV). The Jordan River’s level of atrazine was 0.14 micrograms/L, above the GV of 0.1.

What action has been taken in the intervening seven weeks or so since this testing and what process is being followed?

The flood monitoring program results were somewhat puzzling. The Duck River’s last recorded read reading was the 20/4/2006 and the Esperance River 5/5/2006. However the George River and Little Swanport River had no readings after December 2005 despite the oyster farms being closed several times due to decreased salinity from rain events several times this year.

Can you please provide an explanation for this?

It has been confirmed that glyphosate is being tested for at AST in Hobart using filtered samples, i.e. the pesticide that is adhered to fine particulate matter has been disregarded. The total pesticide load is therefore not being measured. The current testing procedure would therefore seem to be inappropriate for measuring glyphosate levels in drinking water testing programs.

All the pesticides listed above are toxic to humans and ecosystems. Please refer to the submission I have sent to the RPDC re the proposed pulp mill, regarding the toxicity of chemicals including pesticides.

The 2,4-D detection limit is 0.2 micrograms/L and the GV is 0.1 micrograms/L. What does this mean with regard to the safety of the water testing program as per the ADWG and the ability of DPIW to prevent water contamination?

The DPIW “ Monitoring Water Quality” website re-states that there are community concerns about the level of chemical usage and of the impact of chemical pollution on industry, human health, and the environment. It also states that Tasmania’s disease-free status and reputation for clean air and water underpin a marketing advantage that is invaluable for the State’s agricultural industries.

In the light of the problems described in this letter and the past history of pesticide problems in river water catchments in Tasmania, how can the community and water user have faith in the present systems to produce clean and safe drinking water, let alone flourishing ecosystems?

There appears to me to be insufficient transparency, accountability and responsible action taken by the relevant government departments.

I await your response.

Yours sincerely

Alison Bleaney is an East Coast GP