Uranium levels concern NSW towns
Groundwater supplies for two small towns in northern New South Wales contain levels of uranium above Australian guidelines.
Uranium in the water supplies for Moonbi and Kootingal, about 20 kilometres north-east of Tamworth, was above the level outlined in the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines in recent routine analysis.
The tests found uranium levels of 32 micrograms per litre, just under double the 17 micrograms/litre outlined in the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines, and above the World Health Organisation’s safe level of 30 micrograms.
The two towns are now being supplied with water from Tamworth, but water expert Professor Peter Coombes from Swinburne University says there may not be anything to worry about.
“From a health perspective, a one off, small exceedance of most elements is not a drinking water guideline exceedance, you need continuous exceedance of the guidelines for uranium or any other element,” Professor Coombes told the ABC.
“We hear these alarming stories for alternative water sources every now and again, but we have to realise water contains a range of elements at quite low levels.”
“Background levels of these elements are natural and are expected so there is no reason for alarm or concern because they are just normal.”
He said more tests are needed to get a consistent gauge of the levels.
The Tamworth Regional Council has been working with the NSW Department of Health, and says that the uranium is naturally-occurring but will continue to be monitored.
It has pledged to keep the community informed.