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Saturday 9 February 2019

Tasmania's clean, green image takes a hit

Tasmania has carefully crafted a clean, green image to boost tourism - but that image has taken a couple of major hits. 

First, bush fires meant air conditions in the Huon Valley were worse than those in Delhi and Beijing, then came a report that metal contamination levels in lakes in Australia's island state were among the worst in the world.
Lakes within the state’s Wilderness World Heritage Area have been badly polluted by mining, the Australian National University study found. 
Its report said atmospheric metal contaminates from historic mining activities in Queenstown and Rosebery in Tasmania had “contaminated most of the Wilderness World Heritage Area”.
The six lakes studied – including the heritage-protected Dove Lake at Cradle Mountain, Perched Lake, Lake Dobson and Lake Cygnus – were contaminated with lead, copper, arsenic and cadmium. The readings for Owen Tarn and Basin Lake – closest to the Queenstown mine – were even worse. 
Dove Lake is beautiful but polluted
Lead researcher Larissa Schneider compared the Tasmanian lakes to highly polluted waterways such as the Kurang River in Pakistan and the Shur River in Iran. 
“The levels of contamination are really, really high,” Schneider told Guardian Australia. “There is a case in the US where levels were actually lower than Owen Tarn and Basin Lake and they had serious reproduction problems with the fish there. The levels in Tasmania are even higher.”
Research was needed to determine the impact on fish, algae and bacteria, she said, noting that lead could cause deformities in the offspring of affected fish.
The study examined the impact of airborne metal contamination stemming from the introduction of open cut mining in the 1930s until the Tasmanian government created the Environmental Protection Act in 1973.
It found metal contaminants from mining sites at Queenstown and Rosebery as far as 130km away.
Throw in continued logging and pollution caused by high-intensity fish farming and Tasmania may have some work to do to remediate its reputation. 

Oh, and I forgot that you can't swim at the southern end of popular Blackmans Bay Beach, south of Hobart, because the water is polluted. Also, wild shellfish collected in Hobart’s Derwent Estuary and Launceston’s Tamar Estuary are always unsafe to eat.

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