NSW DPI restricts stock sales over lead risk

Beef Central, 19/08/2011

The NSW Department of Primary Industries has issued a media alert advising that it will restrict the sale of stock for slaughter from properties that adjoin a 35 kilometre section of the Chichester Trunk Gravity Main water pipeline in the Hunter Valley, after it was discovered some lead from the pipe had affected cattle grazing at the pipeline.

The media release reads as follows:

"The 80 year old pipeline, owned by Hunter Water, was historically constructed with lead collars to secure the joints and while almost half have been replaced with welded steel, some lead joints still remain. Over time, lead fragments have deposited in the soil near the pipeline in some areas.

"The contamination was discovered after a calf died from lead poisoning. Subsequent testing of stock on land adjoining the pipeline found lead contamination in some of the cattle.

"There is no risk to drinking water supplies with routine testing showing that water from the pipeline fully compiles with Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.

"NSW DPI Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr Ian Roth, said NSW DPI, Hunter Water and the Livestock Health and Pest Authority (LHPA) are working closely to ensure that there is no risk to the properties that adjoin the pipeline or to the wider public.

“As a precaution NSW DPI and LHPA is entering into a Legal Undertaking with the affected property owners to restrict the sale of stock for slaughter until they have been tested and shown to be safe for market,” Dr Roth said.

“Hunter Water has begun fencing the affected sections of the pipeline, in consultation with the individual property owners, to restrict stock from accessing land near the pipe.

“The LHPA district vets will visit each property individually to ensure each property owner understands their requirements under the Legal Undertaking, make sure that stock are excluded from the pipeline and assist with the testing of stock.

“Any stock with residues will be detained until levels fall below acceptable levels.”

"NSW Food Authority Chief Scientist, Dr Lisa Szabo said the NSW Food Authority is working with the other agencies.

“The NSW Food Authority is aware of the incident and is satisfied that the on farm controls in place are preventing affected animals from entering the food chain,” Dr Szabo said.

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