MAC: Mines and Communities

$1 million lawsuit filed against Xstrata over Mount Isa lead poisoning

Published by MAC on 2011-10-05
Source: Mining Australia, Courier-Mail (2011-09-15)

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$1 million lawsuit filed against Xstrata over Mount Isa lead poisoning

By Andrew Duffy

Mining Australia

15 September 2011

Townsville mother Daphne Hare has launched a $1 million lawsuit against Xstrata Mount Isa Mines, alleging her daughter suffers from lead poisoning.

Hare said her nine-year-old daughter was diagnosed with irreversible brain damage after living in Mount Isa.

The law suit has been filed against Xstrata Mount Isa Mines, Mount Isa City Council, and the Queensland government.

Fellow Mount Isa local Sharnelle Seeto has also filed a similar claim against the three organisations.

Hare's case alleges the injuries were caused because the company, council, and Government had failed to warn residents in Mount Isa that they were at risk of lead inhalation or ingestion.

Hare told the Townsville Bulletin she had initially attempted to settle the matter out of court but the negotiations had been unsuccessful.

"We put the offer of $500,000 to them, that's all we wanted, but they offered us nil," she said.

The case alleges that in 1994 an investigation revealed 15 per cent of Mount Isa children had blood lead levels three times highter than the National Health and Medical Research Council's guidelines.

Further sampling up to 1996 revealed more lead contamination in children.

It also alleges widespread distribution of heavy metals came from dust exiting the Mount Isa mine.

It said the dust left the mine via work clothing and boots, vehicles, and other equipment.

An Xstrata spokesperson said in February there was no risk to living in the area.

"Mount Isa is a very safe place to live, and generations of families have grown and prospered here," he said.

He said since the Mount Isa air monitor had not returned any unusual findings since Xstrata started operations in 2003.

Xstrata are yet to be served any court documents relating to this claim.

Last year, following complaints of contamination, investigations into the company found that it had not exceeded legal lead levels.


Two mothers sue Mount Isa Mines for $1 million each over alleged lead poisoning of their children

By Michael Madigan

The Courier-Mail

10 September 2011

MOUNT Isa Mines appears to be coming under a legal offensive as two more families lodge multimillion-dollar compensation claims related to lead poisoning.

Two million-dollar lawsuits were lodged this week against the trifecta of Xstrata Mount Isa Mines, Mount Isa City Council and the State Government on behalf of two children.

Plaintiff Daphne Hare has lodged the claim for $1,000,000 on behalf of Stella Hare, 10, while Sharnelle Seeto has lodged a similar claim for Bethany Sanders, 5. The claims follow Sharlene Body's $1 million damages claim on behalf of son Sidney.

The claims relate to significant impairment of neuropsychological function after being exposed to dangerous levels of lead and other toxins spread from the local mine and smelters.

It has been alleged that by 1994, an investigation had revealed 15 per cent of Mount Isa children had blood lead levels three times higher than the National Health and Medical Research Council's safe level for children.

Further sampling up to 1996 revealed extensive lead contamination of children in excess of NHMRC guidelines.

The Hare claim alleges brain damage and dysfunction as well as impairment in "fine motor functioning, expressive and receptive language, verbal memory and social perceptions." It alleges the injuries were caused by failure to take appropriate steps to warn people in Mount Isa they or their children were at risk of inhalation or ingestion of lead.

It also alleges widespread distribution of heavy metals came from dust coming out of Mount Isa Mine.

It alleges heavy metals left the mine via work clothing and boots, vehicles and other equipment and "the indiscriminate removal of soils from the river" for use as top dressing up to the early 1970s.

The Sanders claim also alleges brian damage and dysfunction and "significant impairment to neuropsychological function including attention and executive function".

It alleges there was a failure to undertake more sampling of young children to monitor blood level.

Xstrata spokesman Steve de Kruijff said in February the company was preparing to answer the claims.

"Mount Isa is a very safe place to live, and generations of families have grown and prospered here," he said.

He said regulatory limits for respirable lead had not been exceeded at any Mount Isa air monitor since the company acquired MIM in 2003.

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