Friends of the Earth is deeply concerned to see a number of communities in the Northern Territory consuming drinking water with levels of uranium and radiological properties which pose a risk to community health.
For several years, Friends of the Earth Australia (FoEA) has been investigating water quality data, from water authorities across the country, with the goal of better understanding which communities are at most risk from drinking water and what substances are regarded as being the most commonly detected in terms of potential health outcomes. The initial results of the work can be seen on this mapping website.
See here for a map of all communities around Australia who have recorded uranium above or near Australian Drinking Water Guideline levels.
A major problem in regards to uranium is that exposure could contribute to health problems such as kidney disease (through kidney damage), liver and thyroid disease with longer-term exposure increasing the risk of developing cancer.
Useful link for understanding health impacts from uranium tainted drinking water here.
No one should be placed in a situation where they are drinking uranium tainted water. People in the communities at most risk should be afforded any viable options which reduce the risk of radiation exposure through their drinking water. The communities most impacted appear to include Laramba, Wilora, Willowra and Kings Canyon. The combined population for all 4 of these communities is ~1100 people.
Ideally, alternative sources of water need to be located and water treatment options provided by the Northern Territory Government. Long term solutions are sorely required.
As a short term measure, water could be trucked into the communities at most risk and stored in water tanks, where community members could access water.
A water carter could top the tank up on a weekly basis or a fortnightly basis. Water would of course also require disinfection.
Water carting is currently occurring in drought stricken NSW and Qld. A number of indigenous communities already rely on water carters in various areas of Australia, most recently in Scotdesco South Australia.
Water would provide an alternative to these communities and a safer option than drinking uranium tainted water.
Not only should communities be granted subsidised water in times of drought, but this should also be an option for communities which face long term chronic water contamination problems. All supplied water would need to comply with Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.
If you could take the time to send a short email to Michael Gunner Chief Minister of the Northern Territory and express your concerns about people being exposed to unsafe levels of uranium in their drinking water that would be much appreciated.
Letter-writing is still regarded as one of the most effective ways to gain political traction on an issue with MPs. Receiving a flood of emails from concerned citizens will start raising alarm bells for them. We have created an email template below that you can fill out and send.
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