Tasmanian Times

Environment

Toxics Group Rejects Toxicology Reports on Poisoned Rosebery Residents

The Toxics Heavy Metals Taskforce Tasmania have today rejected the findings in reports from Professor Frank Daly and Professor George Braitberg. The reports were commissioned by the Department of Health and Human Services to assess the heavy metal poisoning diagnosis by Dr Andreas Ernst on 10 people from Rosebery.

Professors Frank Daly and George Braitberg based their assessments on ten patients from information provided by the DHHS from previous investigations, medical reports, data, test results and files. The conclusions in their reports based on the information provided show numerous errors of fact and incorrect assumptions:

• Conclusions drawn were made from incomplete, flawed and deficient DHHS and EPA investigations.
• Assumptions on possible diagnosis were made without patient consultations or examinations.
• Assumptions on possible diagnosis were made without access to up to date medication lists, accurate medical reports, documentation, correct data and specialist/ diagnostic test results
• Incorrect attribution and analysis of data
• Conflicting findings between Professor Daly’s and Professor Braitbergs’ Reports.

This, in our opinion has led to deficient assessments of Dr Ernst’s diagnosis of the ten patients. In addition the lack of essential patient consultations and examinations has hindered the establishment of a current and objective toxicological assessment of patients’ symptoms.

Most importantly, some of the people who have been diagnosed with heavy metal poisoning, whether or not their diagnosis has been assessed on paper by Profs Daly and Braitberg, have developed further serious medical complications that are symptomatic of heavy metal poisoning.

PROFESSOR DALY AND BRAITBERGS’ REPORTS ON 10 PATIENTS DIAGNOSED WITH HEAVY METAL POISONING

EXAMPLES OF DEFICIENCIES:

PATIENT A – Serious omissions of numerous recent test results and a medications list that includes drugs never taken by patient A.

PATIENT B – Patient A’s cadmium results used for patient B in one report and no recent specialist test results included.

PATIENT C – Possible diagnosis of syptoms incorrectly attributed to alcohol when patient C has not consumed alcohol for over 40 years.

PATIENT D – Omitted patient D’s high urinary nickel level and other high levels of metals.

PATIENT E – Assumptions on medications causing symptoms in this patient whereas patient E does not use any medications.

PATIENT F – No information on laboratory data or blood tests provided for patient F and yet assumptions made on possible drug related causes of symptoms.

PATIENT G – Assumptions on urinary arsenic levels being attributed to consuming fish whereas this patient does not eat any fish. Recently patient G had xrays which found 18 lumps in various parts of the body and he is awaiting surgery – these symptoms were not assessed.

PATIENT H – Very little documentation provided by the DHHS for patient H and no mention is made of infant son’s levels of heavy metals especially thallium. Also patient H has developed further medical complications this year and these were not assessed.

In his report Professor Braitberg quoted from Prof. Priestley’s report “I had explained to the residents that my role was not to provide any clinical analysis or comment on their individual health problems. This is clearly a matter which needs to be resolved by consultation with qualified medical practitioners…”. Professors Daly and Braitberg conducted no examinations, made no direct contact with those patients subject to their investigation or contacted their General Practitioners.

We will continue to stand by the diagnosis of heavy metal poisoning by Dr Ernst, an eminent and highly regarded Tasmanian specialist and we believe that the final arbiter on the question of diagnosis will be determined through the courts in the legal action being undertaken by Slater and Gordon on behalf of people poisoned in Rosebery.

HERE: THMTT statement
HERE: Dr Roscoe Taylor’s statement

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent="no" parentcategory="writers" show = "category" hyperlink="yes"]
28 Comments

28 Comments

  1. Marcus Scammell

    April 22, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    Hi all, (it is Marcus Scammell)

    Our report is in, to the panel, and our executive summary is on TT. I intend to have a close look at the comments on this thread tomorrow and answer them. I will put my answers up under our executive summary, story number 2 at 6:21pm, 23rd April 2010, on TT.

    I would like the Forestry Folk to give serious consideration to how we might find a management solution to fix this rather than just looking for ways to shoot the evidence down. In my experience this evidence will stand. My suggestion to the panel was to seriously look at Buffer zones, I would like to explore this as a way to fix what we have found.

    Regards Marcus

  2. Gerry Mander

    April 21, 2010 at 11:25 am

    #27. The plantation seedling, by comparison, is planted at a wide spacing (usually around 2.5 m along rows with a 3-4 m inter-row), in a weed free environment, in cultivated soil, and is fertilized.

    Lovely theory Barry, but if ALL eucalypts are toxic, then humans must have been drinking toxic water ever since they arrived here?

    However, seeing that they are widely spaced, then they all quickly develop a resistance to this poison, and everything in the garden is OK again, except of course, in major cities, where they pack ’em in and are therefore more vulnerable.

    In some of my other readings, like Charles Darwin, these changes often take a couple of million years, but here in good ol’ Tassie, we do it differently. Here we spray the weeds with atrazine to get rid of them so that humans have a better chance of survival — or something? As for fertilizers, we have a daily outpouring from the government and its minions.

    Yep, Tassie’s a wonderful place and has got all the answers for a long and healthy life, only don’t get run over by a log truck!

  3. Dr Barry Tomkins

    April 21, 2010 at 12:27 am

    Re#3, Details: IF the nitens leaves from native forest in Victoria are 3 times more toxic than the plantation tree leaves, there has to be a logical explanation [note – IF!])

    One hypothesis/idea (note- hypothesis) could be that under natural conditions (fire succession or otherwise), the germinated seedling is under severe competition in order to survive – from other germinants including weeds or plants that grow erect more quickly and shade out tree seedlings, that compete for water, or nutrients and crowd the seedling out. It therefore may put more of its growth energy into survival mechanisms, including development of toxins in leaves.

    The plantation seedling, by comparison, is planted at a wide spacing (usually around 2.5 m along rows with a 3-4 m inter-row), in a weed free environment, in cultivated soil, and is fertilized. Thus it does not need to put the same growth energy into survival, including the development of leaf toxins which are common to all eucalypts.

    THis is an hypothesis only. It could only be tested by appropriate experimentation.

    Dr Barry Tomkins

  4. sanguine

    April 21, 2010 at 12:00 am

    For goodness sakes detail – have you been to the Georges R catchment – have you seen the source of the river?? Yes ? No ? Well thin air is what is there- so are you implying that thin air is the cause of the constant toxicity in the river ? (Thin air = sweet FA – get my drift?)
    Get real – the toxicity is constant – rain, hail or shine and the signature apparently is pretty much the same – and the E.nitens are very, very strongly implicated, regardless of what Jim Reid and his merry bunch may stridently proclaim. Just because he says it is unlikely to be the E.nitens – he has no evidence to back up his claims – as that is all they are – claims- no factual basis.

  5. Marcus Scammell

    April 20, 2010 at 11:55 pm

    # “24” Details

    Fair enough.

    I submitted my final report to the panel this afternoon. Prior to that I had submitted drafts. I expect the panel will make these reports publicly available shortly and I look forward to discussing our findings with the community at large.

    It has always been my belief that people have the right to influence their own future and if I can give them useful information to help them make their own decisions then I’ve done my job.

    Tasmania’s problems have been an unwanted responsibility since 2002 when your government told me they didn’t care. I’m now handing that responsibility back to the panel and looking forward to being free of it.

    We will see what happens. The next few weeks will tell.

    Regards
    Marcus Scammell

  6. Details

    April 20, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    Thanks for your clarification. I concede that that question was an unnecessarily mischievous way of emphasising a point. However, forgive me for being somewhat incredulous about the fact that such samples were not taken, particularly in light of results of previous sampling in the upper Georges river catchment, which showed foam to be toxic.
    http://www.environment.tas.gov.au/index.aspx?base=233

    1. Samples from above the plantations in the catchment were not presented and yet it was implied that the source of all the toxins were the plantations. There is no way of drawing this conclusion given that there are multiple sources for these toxins. Another likely source of such toxins would be the larger area of native eucalypts in the catchment (no mention of this on Australian Story).

  7. Marcus Scammell

    April 19, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    #6clegs”

    I am being sarcastic.

    “crf & others”

    I really do need to send a final report to the panel. Hoping to do that either tomorrow or Thursday.

    “details”

    There were no samples above the plantations, full stop. Crystal Creek is in a different catchment and according to Google Earth may currently have a plantation upstream. When this was established is unknown.

    “Dr Tomkins”

    Critic of old. John Ramsey said he will publish my full report on his web site. So when I submit my final, in the next two days, go through it and let’s debate.

    Must go finish what I promised.

    Marcus Scammell

  8. Kay Seltitzas

    April 18, 2010 at 10:21 am

    Dear Dave 21: You are right about one thing, we will not give up! We will however let the court decide. Is that not fair Dave? The DHHS “employed” (not independent) experts were not given the information Dave. Funnily enough old Roscoe “accidently” omitted just about everything of importance! So I say lets let Slater and Gordon do their jobs and the mine and Government do theirs, and we will see the outcome together. Has it not occured to you Dave, that our solicitors would not take a case like this without evidence? MMM?…

    Kay Seltitzas

  9. Dave

    April 17, 2010 at 10:29 pm

    Ok Gerry and Salamander please explain if you can, how your comments compute.

    Neither are realistic or relevant in this instance.

    Here we have two more internationally well placed and independent toxicologists reviewing all the available information including patient history via all sources including the Rosebery 3’s doctor they so believe in, and yet you talk of the misuse of science etc. As was reported in the media the other day he even agreed that at least one of the patients was not sick due to exposure to metals in the environment. So how many more eh ???

    And guess this latest review substantiated the previous evidence by also concluding that there is no reputable and verifiable evidence to link health issues to metals poisioning and yet you talk of misused scientific information and suspect government interference.

    Frankly, the only misuse is your posting on the TT and making such unsubstantiated and absurd claims.

    The Rosebery 3 will never let up.

    You two live in conspiracy land !!

  10. salamander

    April 17, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    No wonder we don’t trust our own government, when their representatives can’t even behave in a professional manner. What use is science if you don’t use it properly? Misused, it is just a tool for misinformation.

  11. Alison Bleaney

    April 17, 2010 at 4:52 am

    The issues of heavy metal pollution causing human health problems in Tasmania are not going to go away just because thay are not addressed; in fact the opposite is true. Surely it must be better from a public health perspective to identify pollution sources and attempt to quantify the risk from all exposure pathways and make people aware so thay can then make informed decisions for themselves.

    Environmental toxicants have to be discussed as part of the preventative health strategy; to do otherwise is to attempt to avoid the elephant in the room.

    Arsenic is an endocrine disruptor and is biologically active at parts per trillion; many exposure pathways will cause these tissue levels of arsenic and adverse effects.

    The most recent data suggests that over 30% of lung cancers are caused by environmental agents AFTER controlling for smoking.

    Just recently it has been shown that three environmental carcinogens – asbestos, arsenic and radon can have an additive, synergistic or independent effect on tobacco-caused lung cancer.

    Shooting the messenger is a costly exercise; costly to the taxpayer and those that suffer adverse effects due to lack of duty of care.

    Appropriate assessment of the risks and awareness of adverse effects with pro-active health monitoring is the only way to tackle these issues.

    Dr Alison Bleaney

  12. Marsha Stejskal, Kay Seltitzas, Isla MacGregor

    April 17, 2010 at 12:38 am

    #6. Thank you John for your support and encouragement to keep going. It has been very, very hard considering the degree of illness and pain that poisoned people have been suffering to fight this fight alone.

    Our experiences should be a lesson to other Tasmanians about the need for solidarity in each others struggles. To make the connections between the various health issues and help each other. Often we have felt that the issues in Rosebery might well have been happening in Haiti, it has been so far off the radar – yet it his been so devastating and in our own back yard.

    Thanks to all those who have given their words of kindness and compassion.

    We really do need a united effort to combat the increasing incidence of health problems in the community related to environmental contaminants. We are in the midst of a major public health crisis across Australia and our public health system is bursting at the seams. ‘Silent Spring’ has come home to roost on every front.

    Those people working in the network Pollution Information Tasmania have been a rock for us. More power to them all.
    Marsha Stejskal Kay Seltitzas and Isla MacGregor

  13. Gerry Mander

    April 16, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    I have yet to see ANY report authorised by the government that blames the government, no matter what the topic or evidence is.

    When it’s snouts in the trough, who the hell is going fight the band that feeds you?

  14. Aylsa

    April 16, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    6clegs

    I certainly agree that we should seek 2nd opinions and re test if this is required, this was done and the results quashed by the HMTF and then when a 3rd and 4th opinons are rejected yet again on starts to wonder.

    I have read, listened and taken all in, this via documentation and information sessions, because if there was a risk to myself or my family I would like to know. But when you listen and read both sides it becomes clear that the 3rd and 4th opinions of independent toxicologist were uncalled for!

  15. Dr Barry Tomkins

    April 16, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    Dr Bleaney has stated elsewhere on this site that the water sampling was done properly. Given the Scammell 2004 report which was found by review to be ‘unscientific’, and her misrepresentation of Tasmanian cancer statistics in the cumulative graph she presented which was scathingly criticized by Professor David Hill, Director of the Cancer Council of Victoria, a few years ago, I suggest that it would be best to wait for the Ramsay expert panel’s decision as to whether the sampling was done ‘properly’.

    Dr Barry Tomkins

  16. Tom Torquemada

    April 16, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    #9. ‘In Australian Story, we were then told that the nitens leaves were toxic. Of course they are toxic! Do you think any tree species would just sit there and just get eaten after millions of years of evolution’.

    But these nitens are not native to Tasmania and are planted out in high densities.
    So why are they here and are they compounding a toxic problem?

  17. Billy Greene

    April 16, 2010 at 10:55 am

    Go and talk to the locals. the only thing affecting these peoples health is the drugs they are on.
    Billy Greene

  18. 6clegs

    April 16, 2010 at 4:43 am

    To Professor Scammell, perhaps it’s the 2 glasses of white i’ve consumed? I’ve read your recent post above over a few times now – Professor, are you being sarcastic?

    I’m not uni-educated, or as Learn’ed as many posters on this site are, and honestly I’m not trying to be obtuse but your post reads to me like you expect ALL those institutions to disagree with your and Bleaney’s findings. ?

  19. Details

    April 16, 2010 at 2:58 am

    4. In Chris Hickey’s extended interview, the words ‘genetic engineering’ are used. The tests undertaken for Australian Story revealed no evidence of genetically engineered trees (see the material posted on TT a few weeks back). In fact, there is no evidence (because there are none) of genetically engineered plantations in Australia anywhere and yet this point was still made by Dr Hickey. Why?
    http://www.abc.net.au/austory/specials/somethingwatertwo/default.htm

    5. On Australian Story it was suggested that “we are not told how these plantation trees are genetically improved”, or words to that effect. The paper below was published well before Australian Story was filmed and goes into great detail about how nitens has been selectively bred.
    http://eprints.utas.edu.au/6788/

    6. The available evidence suggests that the cancer rates in the NE are lower than what would be expected by chance. This was investigated (and rightly so) after the last Scammell report. A reassuring result you would think.

  20. Details

    April 16, 2010 at 2:58 am

    #4 The problem is that Australian Story was a mix of facts and sexed-up (or, in your words, “misinterpreted”) conclusions? Who would know what is what? The expert panel may shed some light on this. What I do know that there was a fair degree of ‘interesting interpretation’ (others may say ‘BS’, see below) in there. Why?

    Can I suggest one minor revision?
    “Panel says that Scammell & Bleaney have [blatantly] misinterpreted results supplied by Ecotox Services, Advanced Analytical Australia, NSW Health and Safety Sciences at NSW University, Proteomics Laboratory at Macquarie University, SA Waters commercial laboratories and an Ihio laboratory. Subsequently repeated and supported by Chris Hickeys’ team at NIWA and preliminary results from Fiona Young at Flinders University.”

    1. Samples from above the plantations in the catchment were not presented and yet it was implied that the source of all the toxins were the plantations. There is no way of drawing this conclusion given that there are multiple sources for these toxins. What happened to these samples anyway? Another likely source of such toxins would be the larger area of native eucalypts in the catchment (no mention of this on Australian Story).

    2. Even though it was within the budget to travel to Victoria to sample nitens leaves from the native forests, it was not within the budget to pick some leaf samples from other species in the Georges catchment. Why not just get out the car and pick few leaves? Not hard and cheaper than flying to Vic. In Australian Story, we were then told that the nitens leaves were toxic. Of course they are toxic! Do you think any tree species would just sit there and just get eaten after millions of years of evolution. Not likely. The native forest eucalypt leaves are also toxic, as are many of the plants in your garden and vegetables that you eat every day (see link). Maybe these should be investigated as possible explanations for the low rates of cancer in the NE of Tasmania (I know that doesn’t make sense, but what does in this whole affair?).
    http://www.nzfsa.govt.nz/consumers/chemicals-nutrients-additives-and-toxins/natural-toxins/index.htm

    3. In Chris Hickey’s extended interview he states that the samples of nitens leaves from the native forests in Victoria are 3 times (yes, that’s right, 3 times!!) more toxic than the plantation leaves. There are of course many possible explanations for this difference but the conclusion drawn for Australian Story was that the plantation trees had been genetically improved and thus more toxic (What? How? Huh!).
    http://www.abc.net.au/austory/specials/somethingwatertwo/default.htm

  21. crf

    April 16, 2010 at 12:49 am

    By the way Dr Scammell, you walked away from your first assertion on the reason for oyster deaths in Georges Bay.

  22. crf

    April 16, 2010 at 12:47 am

    Dr SCammell (#4), I saw a copy of Hickey’ presentation at an Adelaide conference last year. He clearly did more than analyse samples – he bought into the debate. He will be as liable as any other. He will be held accountable.

  23. john hayward

    April 15, 2010 at 11:04 pm

    Coming across the total dishonesty of your own government is like seeing a ghost – nobody, even your friends, quite believes it. But keep going – they are starting to disintegrate.

    John Hayward

  24. Marcus Scammell

    April 15, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    “crf” #2

    Your prediction “Panel says that Bleaney/Scammell/Hickey got it wrong…” should read “Panel says that Scammell & Bleaney have misinterpreted results supplied by Ecotox Services, Advanced Analytical Australia, NSW Health and Safety Sciences at NSW University, Proteomics Laboratory at Macquarie University, SA Waters commercial laboratories and an Ihio laboratory. Subsequently repeated and supported by Chris Hickeys’ team at NIWA and preliminary results from Fiona Young at Flinders University.”

    That would be a more correct analysis of the situation.

    I have a 70 plus page report to finalise for the panel so I cannot stay and play.

    Marcus Scammell

  25. 6clegs

    April 15, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    to crf @#2 and Aylsa @ #1

    I hope you remember those words if, or when, your quality of life is affected by big business being allowed total free rein over your life. ??

    I’m not a West Coast resident, or affected in any way (i think!), But I fully support anyone, whose life is so affected, that an Enquiry of any sort is required.

    Surely that is one of the best benefits of living in Australia!?. (pity that Tassie gets little or no quality Enquires, eh? Or that this “report” looks like ‘amateur hour at the professors-place’ )

    But what’s that old saying? ” don’t begin a royal commission/enquiry unless you already know the outcome… “

  26. Bazzabee

    April 15, 2010 at 7:43 pm

    I was amazed last night when I watched TV and saw someone who had been told by two world leading independent experts that she was not suffering from heavy metal poisoning complaining. Surely under the circumstances the normal response to this good news would be relief and happiness? Or did I miss something here?

    “I have your test results here Ms Smith and I’m happy to tell you that you don’t have cancer – the previous test was a false positive”.

    “You quack bastard, I’ll sue you for every penny you’ve got”!

    “I demand the Slater Walker no win no pay cure”.

    Posting #2 I agree “it is a waste of time doing these (independent) reviews” if all some people are interested in is reaching a predetermined result. So to keep you and your conspiracy theorist mates happy here is a better ending.

    “OK, you do have an inoperable cancer and you have only weeks to live”.

  27. crf

    April 15, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    We now see the blueprint in this issue for the future reaction to the EPA Panel report on the “toxic nitens” review. Panel says that Bleaney/Scammell/Hickey got it wrong and the anti forestry crowd will attack the report. Watch this space!

    Is it a waste of time doing these reviews? I think so. The State Govt should not waste our money on them.

  28. Aylsa

    April 15, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    How many more reports are you going to reject?
    And is it not stated that, Dr Ersnt consulted with both toxicologist?
    Please give it a rest and find the true causes for your health issues. Perhaps the state and local government and MMG should bill you people for the continued tests and waste of tax payers money!
    Aylsa

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