The 4350water Blog highlights some of the issues relating to proposals for potable reuse in Toowoomba and South East Qld. 4350water blog looks at related political issues as well.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

SEQ water grid debacle - Fluoride overdose in water ...

Anna Bligh waits 2 weeks to announce a breach of safety guidelines.

Courier Mail:

Fluoride overdose in water

14 May 2009

About 20 times the recommended fluoride was accidentally added to Brisbane water supplies two weeks ago.

Premier Anna Bligh today said the first breach of safety guidelines had occurred between 9am and midday on Friday May 1.

The water should have had 1.5 million grams per litre of fluoride but test results released this week showed it had between 30 and 31 milligrams per litre.

About 300,000 litres of water was released from a fluoride treatment plant at North Pine Dam.

The water flowed into as many as 4000 households in Brendale and Warner on Brisbane's northside.


Ms Bligh, who was alerted to the issue last night, today moved to reassure people, saying there was a very remote chance of any health issues, particularly given symptoms would have emerged by now .

Queensland Health has not received any reports of ill-effects.

The effects of a fluoride overdose are symptoms similar to gastro enteritis.

Ms Bligh said she was angry about the bungle and has ordered a full investigation.

There are at least three safety checks which are believed to have failed.

The bungle is believed to have occurred during a routine shutdown for maintenance at the plant.

Operations shut down but the fluoride pump didn't.

It effectively overdosed an amount of water which was released into the pipes when the plant resumed operations.


See - Courier Mail - Fluoride overdose in water.

Overdosing peeople with fluoride.

Changing the water safety guidelines so contaminated recycled water can be used.

Trust us says the Bligh government ...

6 Comments:

Anonymous newswatch said...

The Daily.com.au:

Brisbane fluoride overdose

14 May 2009 | By AAP

A Queensland water company took more than two weeks to tell the government about a treatment plant malfunction that saw too much fluoride added to water supplies.

Premier Anna Bligh on Thursday said the malfunction occurred on May 1 but water service provider Seqwater only advised her government and affected councils on Wednesday night.

The premier said she’d been advised there was an “extremely minimal health risk” from the malfunction, which came during a shutdown for scheduled maintenance.

The malfunction affected water supplies from North Pine Dam.

Ms Bligh said higher than usual levels of fluoride had passed through a pipeline servicing the Warner and Brendale areas north of Brisbane.

The flow lasted for three hours on the morning of May 1.

Ms Bligh has ordered an immediate investigation to determine how fail-safe devices designed to prevent such an incident had malfunctioned.

“I want immediate results from this investigation to ensure it does not happen again,” she said.

3:55 PM, May 14, 2009

 
Anonymous newswatch said...

Brisbane Times:

Water treatment error causes fluoride overload

May 14, 2009

The State Government has ordered an investigation into a malfunction at the North Pine water treatment plant which resulted in 20 times the regulated level of fluoride being added to household water supplies north of Brisbane.

Premier Anna Bligh this afternoon appeared alongside Chief Health officer Jeannette Young and SEQWater spokesman Jim Pruss to assure the community there was an extremely minimal health risk as a result of the error, which occurred two weeks ago.

The water treatment plant had been shut down for maintenance but fluoride continued to be added to the system, resulting in a higher concentration of being added to the water supply when the treatment system returned to operation a short time later.

Ms Bligh said she had been advised up to 30 milligrams of fluoride per litre had been detected in a sample of water taken from the North Pine plant on April 29, well above the regulated maximum concentration of 1.5 milligrams per litre.

It is understood about 4000 households, including parts of Brendale and Warner, would potentially have received water to their pipes with elevated fluoride levels between 9am and 12pm on May 1.

Ms Young said any adverse health affects were "very unlikely".

She said someone who drank a large amount of water in the affected areas during the three-hour period may have experienced "very mild gastroenteritis", but she was not aware of any such cases in the past two weeks.

There would be no long-term health consequences, Ms Young said.

Ms Bligh defended not telling the public sooner, saying SEQWater was not aware of the problem until the results of the April 29 water sample came back on Tuesday.

The Premier, who continues to back the addition of fluoride to South-East Queensland water supplies, said she was personally informed of the result last night.

The malfunction, in which dosage units continued to add fluoride in the water treatment plant even though it was shut down for three days, was "completely unprecedented" in Australia, she said.

"I think it's important to understand this is an extremely unusual event," she told reporters in Brisbane.

Authorities have shut down the fluoride dosage units at the North Pine water treatment plant until an investigation is completed.

Mr Pruss said fluoride dosage units would be manually shut down at other SEQ plants whenever maintenance was required to prevent a repeat incident.

4:06 PM, May 14, 2009

 
Blogger Concerned Ratepayer said...

Just another example of what people have been saying all along - human error and mechanical failure means there are significant risks with the SEQ water grid.

4:08 PM, May 14, 2009

 
Anonymous newswatch said...

The Chronicle:

Water firm admits fluoride overload
14 May 2009

A QUEENSLAND water company has taken more than two weeks to tell the government about a treatment plant malfunction that saw too much fluoride added to water supplies.

Premier Anna Bligh on Thursday said the malfunction occurred on May 1 but water service provider Seqwater only advised her government and affected councils on Wednesday night.

The premier said she'd been advised there was an "extremely minimal health risk" from the malfunction, which came during a shutdown for scheduled maintenance.

The malfunction affected water supplies from North Pine Dam.

Ms Bligh said higher than usual levels of fluoride had passed through a pipeline servicing the Warner and Brendale areas north of Brisbane.

The flow lasted for three hours on the morning of May 1.

Ms Bligh has ordered an immediate investigation to determine how fail-safe devices designed to prevent such an incident had malfunctioned.

"I want immediate results from this investigation to ensure it does not happen again," she said.

7:18 PM, May 14, 2009

 
Blogger Concerned Ratepayer said...

SEQ Water = Qld Government = QWC = Labor = Anna Bligh. All one and the same.

7:44 PM, May 14, 2009

 
Anonymous newswatch said...

Brisbane Times:

Malfunction won't slow fluoride rollout: Bligh

May 14, 2009

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh says a malfunction which pumped a surge of fluoride 20 times higher than recommended levels through water pipes in north Brisbane will not stop the statewide rollout of fluoride.

The malfunction happened two weeks ago while the North Pine water treatment plant was shut for routine maintenance but did not pose a health risk.

The fluoride system, which should have shut down automatically, continued to operate for a short time.

When the plant was brought back on line, a higher than normal concentration of fluoride was flushed for three hours through the pipes servicing the Warner and Brendale areas.

Water and health authorities completed tests on Tuesday and briefed the premier on Wednesday night.

"While I am very concerned about this incident, it does not concern me in relation to the benefits of fluoride in our drinking system," the premier said, announcing an independent investigation into the incident.

"Our plants treat our water for a range of safety purposes, so I want to understand what happened in this case.

"But it does not for one minute shake my confidence that fluoride is one of the most significant public health leaps forward of the last century."

Ms Bligh said the incident was unprecedented at any other fluoride treatment plant in Australia.

"There will be a thorough investigation of this issue," she said.

Chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young said the amount of fluoride that passed through the pipes over a three hour period was "of no health concern at all".

"I'm confident the risk of anyone having suffered any adverse health outcome is remote - if indeed not zero," she said.

The concentration of fluoride was 30 to 31 milligrams per litre, while the regulated maximum is 1.5 milligrams per litre.

Dr Young said for there to be a health risk the levels would have to be much higher and for much longer than three hours.

"It's a high level in terms of what's provided in the water but it's a low level in terms of any risk," she said.

Ms Bligh said Mark Pascoe, CEO of the International Water Centre based in Brisbane, will run the investigation.

"As an immediate precaution when any water treatment plants are shut down for normal maintenance, there will be a manual shutdown of the fluoride dosing equipment," she said.

7:54 PM, May 14, 2009

 

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