St Helens Drinking Water Quality Update

St Helens Drinking Water Quality Update

Read the Griffith University report, 'The role of toxicity testing in identifying toxic substances: A framework for identification of suspected toxic compounds in water', released 12 May 2011.

A final Flinders University report is currently being completed. It will be publicly released once finalised.

George River Panel report

The George River Water Quality Panel was formed in March 2010 to examine concerns raised on the ABC's Australian Story about toxic substances found in samples from the George River (broadcast February 2010).

An internal ABC investigation has since found the Australian Story program in some respects fell short of ABC editorial standards relating to contextual accuracy and balance. Read the summary released 20 June 2010.

The panel's findings, which post-dated the Australian Story program, included:

  • There were no abnormal cancer rates within the St Helens drinking water area. The incidence and pattern of cancer in the region was consistent with the profile of the community, and did not show any characteristics of a 'cluster'.
  • The deflated river foam samples used for the investigations presented on Australian Story were highly concentrated by the sampling apparatus used to collect the foam. This foam posed no health risk to the St Helens community or to the ecosystem.
  • The toxicity was likely due to highly concentrated naturally occurring plant compounds, which at natural concentrations are not toxic.
  • There was no evidence that pesticides in the drinking water supply in St Helens posed a health risk to the community. Insecticides had never been detected in the water supply system at St Helens. Traces of herbicides (well below human health guidelines) had occasionally been detected during high flow in the river.

Read the panel's final report or summary released on 29 June 2010.

Want more information?

St Helens background