State Minister unveils plan to continue fight to reduce children's lead levels in Port Pirie

PLAN: Dan van Holst Pellekaan
PLAN: Dan van Holst Pellekaan

Nyrstar smelter and the State Government have agreed to extend the Targeted Lead Abatement Program (TLAP) for another 10 years to commit to reducing emissions and lowering the average blood-lead levels in adults and children.

The program was originally scheduled to end in May, 2024, but the smelter and the state recognise the critical importance of the program and have agreed to extend it for another decade.

Minister for Energy and Mining Dan van Holst Pellekaan said the government would announce a series of significant new measures to lay the foundations for the short, medium and long-term reduction of lead in air and blood in Port Pirie.

"We intend to deliver real results in the near term and keep up a sustained effort into the future," Mr van Holst Pellekaan said.

"It's clear that there's no silver bullet or quick-fix, and that's why I've personally sought and secured an agreement from Nyrstar to commit to a long-term agreement with the Port Pirie community.

"The people of Port Pirie deserve to see State Government and Nyrstar committing to the long-haul, as we enter a new phase of fighting legacy lead in partnership with the community.

"The community want a seat at the TLAP table and I have delivered that with Port Pirie council now working directly with Government and Nyrstar.

"The community now has a seat at the decision-making table, and this new agreement means that will continue for many years to come.

"The State Government and Nyrstar also commit that all under-spending in the TLAP program in one year is rolled over to the next year, so the community can have confidence that all money and programs pledged will be delivered."

Nyrstar's Vice President Australian Operations Dale Webb said "we recognise the importance of TLAP to addressing a very important issue for the people of Port Pirie".

"We are excited about the positive changes which have already occurred, including the appointment of Peter Dolan as TLAP Executive Director and the increased engagement of the community as we move forward," Mr Webb said.

"During the course of 2020-21 Nyrstar has invested more than $25 million on some initiatives aimed at reducing lead in air from its plant and operations and will continue investing and taking action to reduce lead in air further.

"Recent lead in air reduction initiatives include completing tarping over its stockpiles, advanced construction of a temporary dome over its intermediate materials storage area, improving on site road cleaning based on enhanced data collection and major recladding of buildings."

A review into TLAP's previous work saw a new board be formed and the appointment of an independent Executive Director, Mr Dolan.

"The report provides us with clear, achievable goals and a pathway to achieving them, and as the recently appointed responsible minister I will ensure we get on with the job of reducing lead levels in Port Pirie," said Mr van Holst Pellekaan.

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