Children’s Hospital Lead Contamination Caused by Valve Corrosion

The WA Chief Health Officer Tarun Weeramanthri has just completed a month-long review at Perth’s Children’s Hospital to develop recommendations for dealing with the issue of lead in the water supply.

The review has found the lead contamination was caused by the dezincification of brass fittings within the Thermostatic Mixing Valve Assembly Boxes, located near drinking water outlets in the hospital.

Mr Weeramanthri has recommended that the 1,200 valves be removed and replaced by stainless steel as per the original plan and the government is hoping building contractor John Holland will rectify the situation.

The new hospital was set to open in 2015, however this was delayed due lead contamination in the water supply.

WA Health Minister Roger Cook said he is confident it will be able to open sometime in 2018, after the Chief Health Officer gives his approval.

“It is with great disappointment, given the work that now needs to be undertaken, the hospital will not open this year, however, we are on a clear path forward to rectify this issue,” he said.

“I remain committed to restoring the faith of the public in Perth Children’s Hospital, so children and families can rely on the hospital for years to come.”

He said his biggest concern is for the staff who are doing it toughest as they have to continue to deliver treatment to patients in the “deteriorating” buildings of Princess Margret Hospital.

There is some good news, as the report found that phosphate treatment programs had some effectiveness to date, improving compliance with the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines from 74 per cent to 82 percent. However, they must reach 95 per cent before the hospital can be opened.

Mr Cook said the government is developing a plan for the removal of the Thermostatic Mixing Valve Assembly Boxes.

“We are moving forward to resolve the issue.  The Department of Health, the Department of Finance and the Building Commission will develop a plan to remove the TMV Assembly Boxes,” he said.

“The State Government thanks the CHO for his comprehensive report, which represents a clear path forward.”

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