ELEANOR HALL: The small mining town of Rosebery on Tasmania’s west coast is divided over the plans by some residents to sue the local mine owner. Ten residents say they have poisoned by the mine’s heavy metals.

But the mine is the town’s main employer and the claims that it’s poisoning locals has angered a much bigger group of Rosebery residents, as Felicity Ogilvie reports.

FELICITY OGILVIE: The small town of Rosebery on Tasmania’s west coast owes its existence to the Minmetals zinc, lead, copper, silver and gold mine. That’s why the allegations by a group of residents that they’re being poisoned by the mine is causing such division.

Local woman Jo Powell was so concerned at the claims she set up an online website called: Rosebery is not contaminated. I’m prepared to be tested. She says the site is designed to maintain the good reputation of Rosebery.

JO POWELL: Rosebery is getting a reputation as the contaminated town. Like our house prices have dropped. Tourists actually come to town and say, “oh, you know we can’t drink the water here and people are poisoned and dying”.

We’re not denying that maybe there is a problem in Rosebery despite the name of the group. But we want some answers whether they be proof that there is contamination in town and what can be done about it or answers proving that there is no contamination.

FELICITY OGILVIE: Four-hundred people have already joined her Facebook page. But Jo Powell says some of the comments posted have been so offensive she’s had to remove them.

Here’s a sample of some of them:

VOICEOVER: It’s funny how the people have lived here for so long and they’re not sick. (Bleep) off and get a real life you lowlife instead of running our town down.

VOICEOVER 2: What a load of (bleep). Why are these people still living in a so-called contaminated mining town that they have no idea on how to repack their bags and get the (bleep) out if it’s that bad? Or is there not enough people that can pack it for them and show them the way out?

VOICEOVER 3: Houses go up quick when you set alight to them. I’m sure no-one will miss one house and two dumb (bleep).

JO POWELL: When the people write the comments they don’t seem to realise when they put it up it’s their opinion but it reflects on everybody else in the group. And we don’t all feel that way.

Like there are some people that have feelings like that. But I mean it’s not everybody. It’s not everybody that wants them out of town or plans on burning their house down or anything ridiculous like that.

But yeah, that’s why they’ve been removed.

Kay Seltitzas is one of the people who the comments are aimed at.

KAY SELTITZAS: I was surprised and particularly the ones that are talking about packing their bags and taking them out of town. Rosebery is a little bit like that, always has been, where they believe they can do things like that.

But you can’t do things like that, just because you don’t agree with what someone is saying.

FELICITY OGILVIE: Ms Seltitzas and other residents are asking lawyers to see if they have a case to sue the mine operators over the alleged heavy metal poisoning.

But she says she won’t take any action over the online abuse.

The Tasmanian police say they haven’t received any complaints about the Facebook website.

ELEANOR HALL: Felicity Ogilvie reporting.

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