1980’s: Bootwa Dam NSW. Pesticide detected: Aldrin

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… Pacific Palms resident Ross Bowen was disturbed by at the Health Department’s response to evidence of massive pollution in the nearby Bootawa Dam. Aldrin residues in dam sediment were recorded at 1500 times above the WHO Guidelines but the authorities saw no need to take any action. Nor, according to Ross, did the Department take enough care with testing of his community’s water supply. He found that the Department’s interpretation of its own test results left a lot to be desired. Indeed he considered its approach deliberately misleading.

If you look at the actual laboratory results, you can see what I mean about dubious report writing by the Division of Analytical Laboratories. One sample on the lab assistant’s report shows dieldrin at ‘0.03.ND’, whilst the lab’s certificate shows the same sample as having no detectable dieldrin. This interpretation is tied up with their definition of ‘not detectable’. If this is less than 0.05ppm it is classified as ‘not detected’ thereby allowing a nil return. Now the World Health Organisation maximum for dieldrin in drinking water is 0.03ppm, whilst the Australian standard is 1. The lesson from this is when people are getting water tested, they should insist on the actual lab report, as well as the official certificate. [Ross Bowen, Pacific Palms Water Survey Group, NSW]. p 92/3 Quick Poison Slow Poison. Pesticide Risk in the Lucky Country. Kate Short 1994