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Sydney Water denies cover up.
Sunday, February 17, 2013 » 06:54pm / wap.news.bigpond.com
Sydney Water has denied covering up the cause of contaminated drinking water in Sydney’s south, saying it has provided test results to the public. A health warning was issued to residents in parts of southern Sydney in December last year after reports the water had a chemical or petrol taste. Sydney Water says the contamination occurred when compounds from bitumen were let into a water pipe during routine maintenance.
But the incident has sparked claims the contamination could be linked to Orica’s former ChlorAlkali Plant at Botany, with suggestions Sydney Water may have covered up the incident and botched test results. Sydney Water denies those claims, saying there was never any threat to the public. ‘There has been no cover up of any results,’ Sydney Water said in a statement on Sunday.
‘Apart from some compounds which created changes to taste and odour in the water, results show the water met the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.’ The company said the NSW Department of Health had been given samples and agreed there was no risk to residents. NSW Health said it was advised by Sydney Water that a water pipe had been returned to service after maintenance without being flushed. The government department ‘considered that the most likely cause to be disturbance of the lining of the water main’.
A sample of the water found chloroform and bromochloro methanes – which are not found in bitumen. But NSW Health says the presence of those compounds is ‘not unexpected’ because trace amounts are commonly found in drinking water supplies around the country. ‘These compounds are examples of trihalomethanes that form when drinking water is disinfected with chlorine,’ NSW Health Director of Environmental Health Dr Wayne Smith said in a statement.
Despite the government labelling NSW Health the ‘independent water regulator’ the department did not carry out independent testing. ‘NSW Health asked Sydney Water to undertake testing to confirm the nature and extent of the contamination,’ Dr Smith said. The incident has prompted the NSW Greens to call for the creation of an independent body that would ‘properly monitor pollution’.
Greens MP and environment spokeswoman Cate Faehrmann said residents living around Orica’s former ChlorAlkali Plant at Botany were ‘scared out of their brains’ about contamination. ‘The community is not trusting companies like Orica and now companies like Sydney Water to undertake their activities safely,’ she told reporters in Sydney.
‘It’s really important the community trust is restored.’
The NSW opposition has joined the call for tougher action by the state government, demanding more transparency about the cause the pollution in this incident. ‘Unfortunately there is a culture of cover-up by the bureaucrats at Sydney Water and the O’Farrell government must step in and order Sydney Water to detail what caused this incident,’ NSW opposition spokesman for water Walter Secord told the Macquarie Network on Sunday. But NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell has rubbished opposition claims there may have been a cover-up. ‘The opposition is talking through an orifice that I won’t mention,’ he told reporters in Sydney on Sunday.
Mr O’Farrell said he would happily drink from taps in Sydney’s south because the health department had ruled there was no evidence the incident was linked to the Orica plant.
Toxic vapors force Google to shut two buildings close to it’s Mountain View HQ.
Google has been forced to evacuate staff from two buildings close to it’s Mountain View HQ in California due to toxic vapors seeping up from the ground below.
The dangerous air pollution is being caused by trichloroethylene, a powerful solvent also known as TCE, which has leaked into the soil and polluted the groundwater. The pollution is the legacy of chip makers including Fairchild, Intel and Raytheon who dumped thousands of gallons of the toxic solvent into the ground when they worked in the buildings in the early days of Silicon Valley.
Google has been forced to evacuate staff from two buildings near it’s Mountain View HQ due to dangerously high level of air pollution.
The impacted buildings are QD6 and QD7 on North Whisman Road, Mountain View. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, since cleanup began in the early 1980s more than 74 million gallons of groundwater have been treated and 2,000 pounds of volatile organic compounds removed.
When Google moved into the impacted buildings, QD6 and QD7 on North Whisman Road, they installed state of the art filters, and conducted rigorous air quality testing. Recent tests however have recorded excessive levels of TCE in the air in some areas of the buildings. A normal screening level for commercial buildings is five micrograms per cubic meter.
Most of Google’s air sample stations in the two buildings detected TCE levels below that, but about a dozen stations reported readings from 5-30 micrograms per cubic meter. One station even reported 120 micrograms per cubic meter. Google employees have been exposed to the problem for ‘months’, but it ‘takes decades of exposure to cause problems’, the EPA told CBS.
The pollution is the legacy of chip makers including Raytheon and Intel who dumped thousands of gallons of the toxic solvent into the ground when they worked in the buildings in the late ’70s. Google has released a statement saying that the health and safety of employees is it’s number one priority.
Google has released a statement, saying ‘The health and safety of our employees is Google’s number one priority, and we take several proactive measures to ensure the healthiest indoor air environments possible.’
As well the Google buildings, residential homes in the area have also been fitted with state-of-the-art pumps to blow the toxic vapors away. Treatment also continues under the ground with vapor barriers in place, so-called slurry walls going down 40 feet into the earth, well sucking up water to be treated, and systems operating to extract toxins from the air and water.
A study last year found a spike in TCE-related cancers in the area around the Google buildings.
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