Key points:The tribunal ruled drinking water uranium levels were not the housing department’s responsibility The residents were seeking compensation over the contamination and also tap filters to bring their water in line with guidelines The tribunal has called for further submissions relating to claims about housing conditions and repairs
Data compiled by the NT’s Power and Water Corporation had shown there were 0.046 milligrams of uranium per litre (mg/L) in the town’s water supply — close to three times the level recommended in national guidelines.
According to Australia’s national guideline, published by the National Health and Medical Council, uranium levels in drinking water should not exceed 0.017 milligrams per litre.
Residents of Laramba, north-west of Alice Springs, lodged a legal case against the landlord, which in this case is the NT’s Department of Housing.
The case was submitted to the NT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) in November last year, highlighting problems with not only residents’ drinking water but also housing repairs and conditions in the town.
Residents sought compensation over the uranium contamination and also asked for a filter system on at least one tap in their household kitchens to bring uranium levels in line within Australia’s drinking water guidelines.
But in the NTCAT’s ruling against the residents, the tribunal member Mark O’Reilly said the uranium in the water was not the responsibility of the landlord.
“In my view the landlord’s obligation for habitability is limited to the premises themselves,” the decision read…….
Appeal of NTCAT decision ‘likely’
Daniel Kelly, lawyer assisting for Australian Lawyers for Remote Aboriginal Rights said the result was disappointing and an appeal was likely.
“We’re in the process of speaking to our clients, but our view is — and the views that we’ve been able to garner from our clients are — that we should seek to have this decision reviewed,” Mr Kelly said.
“The decision leaves the question well who is responsible? Because these people have been exposed to uranium in the drinking water for over 10 years.”
“The Department of Housing is doing nothing about it, Power and Water is doing nothing about it and the Northern Territory Government is doing nothing about it.”
In a statement to the ABC, the NT Department of Housing said it would not be providing comment as proceedings were ongoing.
In relation to the rest of the Laramba case, involving housing conditions and repairs, the tribunal has called for further submissions. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-07-14/nt-community-laramba-lose-legal-battle-over-uranium-in-water/12454206?fbclid=IwAR2Vb6AHk4MlypQI-_s8MMuWSLFCVQOViknD4nXc52RY4-i5NyA767hOHYk