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Lead found in water at five new Perth schools

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UPDATE: Two of five new Perth schools that had lead detected from “non-drinking” taps have been cleared.

In a statement issued by the Department of Education on Wednesday night, a spokesperson said testing at two of the school showed “there were no elevated levels of lead”.

“These two schools (Doubleview Primary School and Southern Grove Primary School) will operate normal water systems tomorrow and bottled water will not be needed,” the spokesperson said.

“Any remaining unused bottled water at those two schools will be given to those other schools needing bottled water.”

Results for testing at the three others schools, Rapids Landing Primary School, Aveley North Primary School and Aveley Secondary College, will be available “in coming days”.

Bottled water will continue to be provided to those at the schools.

Earlier on Wednesday, Education Minister Sue Ellery said testing of water at the five locations, which had stagnated over the school holidays, had found levels of lead.

Education Department director general Sharyn O’Neill said the areas at the five schools which had shown inconsistent results would be off limits.

“Initial tests conducted by the Department of Finance’s Building Management and Works found some taps in work areas, such as external hose taps and work sinks, showed slightly elevated levels of lead. Subsequent testing, however, showed no elevated levels in water from these taps,” Ms O’Neill said.

“Any taps with inconsistent results will be off-limits to students and staff while further testing is undertaken.”

Ms O’Neill said the measures were “above and beyond” what was required.

“Senior Education and Health Department officers will work together on all preliminary test results that have been provided by the Department of Finance’s Building Management and Works (BMW), which is standard practice,” she said.

Ms Ellery said she was furious the testing had not been implemented by Education and Building Management and Works in time to generate results by the start of the school year.

“I am disappointed and frankly angry that an announcement that was made in October last year about this testing regime has not been able to be completed before all of the relevant schools returned to school today,” she said.

She told parents she was acting out of an abundance of caution over and above the advice of public health officials because “it’s children we are talking about”.

“I want to reassure parents that I take the safety of your children very seriously,” she said.

“If I was in your position I would want the alternate water source.”

The testing was ordered after concerns were raised last year by ChemCentre boss Peter McCafferty that new schools could be at a similar risk to lead contamination as the Perth Children’s Hospital.

The hospital’s contamination issue is believed to have been caused by water remaining stagnant in pipes for months, a similar situation with schools over the holiday period.

Mr McCafferty told a parliamentary inquiry last year he would recommend checking schools for contamination after holiday periods.

“I think schools, as you have mentioned, are one of potential risk. One, you have a population of children. But in this particular case we believe part of the problem has been a period of stagnation, or low flow, and schools would have that just about every year with the summer vacation,” he said at the time.


  • Fremantle College – testing complete, no elevated lead levels.
  • Aspiri Primary School – 1 tap in gardener’s store showing inconsistent results.
  • Yanchep Secondary College – 1 work sink showing inconsistent results.
  • Oakwood Primary School – 1 external hose tap showing inconsistent results.
  • Wellard Primary School – 3 activity sinks showing inconsistent results.
  • Honeywood Primary School – 4 activity sinks showing inconsistent results.
  • Rapids Landing Primary School – awaiting results.
  • Aveley North Primary School – awaiting results.
  • Aveley Secondary College – awaiting results.
  • Doubleview Primary School – testing complete, no elevated lead levels.
  • Southern Grove Primary School – testing complete, no elevated lead levels.


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