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Mining town residents claim they're being poi -

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ELEANOR HALL: Residents of a mining town on Tasmania's west coast say they've been poisoned by
contaminated mine water. The residents say heavy metals from the Rosebery mine have been leeching
onto their properties and some of them are now considering court action.

But the mine's management says there's no evidence that heavy metals from the mine are poisoning
the locals.

In Hobart Felicity Ogilvie reports.

FELICITY OGILVIE: There are about 1,500 residents in the small mining town of Rosebery on
Tasmania's west coast. Most houses are close to the polymetallic mine and some of the residents say
they're being poisoned by heavy metals from the mine.

Kay Seltitzas says she became sick after moving to Rosebery.

KAY SELTITZAS: Initially in 200... around 2006, 2007 I lost, I went down to 42 kilos from 68. I was
chunky. And I couldn't eat, I had trouble drinking, I couldn't sleep, hair loss, nerve damage,
headaches, I started getting tingling in my hands and my feet, I had really bad headaches and just
felt dreadful.

FELICITY OGILVIE: Ms Seltitzas is part of a group of 10 locals who are planning to sue the mine.
The local mine produces zinc, lead, copper, silver and gold and Ms Seltitzas says the heavy metals
are leaching into her backyard.

KAY SELTITZAS: In 2008 my next door neighbour Marsha Stejskal saw her cat drink the ground water
because we have a lot of ground water on those two properties, it goes from my property to her
property, and the cat became very, very ill. So unbeknown to me at the time she had the soil water
analysed through the government laboratories in Newtown and the results were shocking when they
came back.

So I had my property tested and it turns out that the lead level on my property was even worse.

FELICITY OGILVIE: The residents told the Health Department they thought they were being poisoned.
After an investigation in 2008 the Health Department found no evidence that people were suffering
from heavy metal poisoning. But the investigation's recently been re-opened.

Doctor Chrissie Pickin is the deputy director of Public Health.

CHRISSIE PICKIN: In the past we've done lots of work, we've investigated thoroughly, we brought in
an expert toxicologist who, as you'll be aware, I presume, had found that there were no grounds for
the residents' contention that they were being exposed to heavy metals through the environment,
levels high enough to cause their health concerns.

FELICITY OGILVIE: And when abouts was that investigation completed?

CHRISSIE PICKIN: That was completed, our final report was published in April last year. Now the
expert toxicologist did express concerns that whatever we found the residents had a very, very
strongly firmly held belief that they were being poisoned and they obviously continued to look for
somebody who could help them with that and a doctor from Launceston has expressed an opinion that
despite a lack of confirmatory biochemical tests, he was concerned that they may have been poisoned
after all.

Now obviously we take something like that very seriously and we are currently performing now a
cluster investigation on that group.

FELICITY OGILVIE: The local mine used to be owned by Oz Minerals. They found no evidence that
locals were being poisoned. The mine was sold to the Chinese-owned company MinMetals.

The mine's new owners have decided to test the entire town for evidence of heavy metals in the
environment.

John Lamb is the general manager of the Rosebery Mine.

JOHN LAMB: That will involve testing in excess of 100 sites. They'll be taking soil samples. They
take dust from roof cavities and also any water that might be standing in yards. And that's then
subjected to a laboratory analysis for a suite of 10 metal toxicants.

FELICITY OGILVIE: In 2008 the mine managed to turn a $73 million profit despite the global
financial downturn. Now the residents who say they've been poisoned are looking for compensation.

They've asked Peter Long from law firm Slater and Gordon to look at their case.

PETER LONG: There is absolutely no doubt that these people are suffering heavy metal poisoning. The
strong inference is that it comes from the mine but that is going to require some more
investigation.

FELICITY OGILVIE: But the mine manager, John Lamb, says there's no proof that the residents are
being poisoned by the mine.

JOHN LAMB: I'm always concerned to hear that people in the town believe that they're ill and
believe that they might be ill from living in that town. The fact of the matter is that I don't
believe that's obvious at this point and I'll be waiting for the Department of Health and Human
Services to complete their re-opened study before any conclusions are drawn there.

FELICITY OGILVIE: Kay Seltitzas thinks her house has been so contaminated she's moved out of
Roseberry. She says taking legal action is the only way of getting compensation.

KAY SELTITZAS: The property should have been at the very least remediated, nothing has been done,
nothing whatsoever and it's not just us saying it. I think the involvement of Slater and Gordon
might speak for itself.

FELICITY OGILVIE: The lawyers say they need a few more weeks to investigate before they can let the
residents know if they have enough evidence to mount a case against the mine.

ELEANOR HALL: Felicity Ogilvie reporting.