Australian Story: “Something in the Water”

Tonight Australian Story begins the first of a 2 part investigation that asks “How clean and green is Tasmania?”

A local GP and a Sydney scientist join forces to solve an environmental riddle in Tasmania.

In 2000, local GP Dr. Alison Bleaney began noticing a rising rate of rare and unusual cancers amongst her patients at her practice in St. Helens on the North East coast.

With local oyster farmers worried about deformities suddenly appearing in their oysters Sydney marine ecologist Dr. Marcus Scammell was appointed by the Tasmanian Government to investigate.

Wondering if there might be a connection between ill health in her patients and the health of the oysters, Dr.
Bleaney contacted Dr. Scammell. Certain there was a problem with the water in the catchment, mostly likely related to aerial spraying of the timber plantations, they and two oyster farmers joined forces raising a red alert in a report to the Tasmanian government.

Discredited and accused of “unscientific quackery”, the group were undeterred. So concerned about what they believed was a serious environmental issue, they forked out tens of thousands of dollars of their own money to launch their own investigation.

The result of their investigation has confounded everyone’s expectations, including their own.

This isn’t the first time that Dr. Bleaney has put herself in the firing line for a cause that she believes in. On her first attempt to enjoy an idyllic rural posting, she unwittingly found herself and her family in the middle of a war zone at Stanley in the Falklands. Thrust into the role of defacto Hospital Administrator during the Falklands War she was revered as a local heroine for helping facilitate an Argentine surrender.

In 1989, Dr. Bleaney and her family moved to St Helens, Tasmania. “It was my ideal practice … there was really not much in the way of diseases here. There wasn’t much in the way of cancer. And then somewhere around about 2000, it dawned on me that really I was seeing an increase in all sorts of diseases that to me was quite unexpected andunexplainable,” reflects Dr. Bleaney on Australian Story.

Dr. Marcus Scammell says, “She’s doing in Tasmania what she did in the Falklands in 1982. She stepped right out in front of the firing line for what she believes in and she won’t stop ‘til she gets what she wants – no matter what the cost to her personally.”

Part One of this story airs tonight at 8pm on ABC1.

17 Comments:

  1. How many of the people oposed to plantations are Tasmanian born? Not many! If you don’t like the way natural areas are managed go back where you came from and leave Tasmania alone.

  2. A chemical is a chemical, whether created in a lab or by the universe. It can be good, bad or indifferent in the exposure effects and this is usually merely a matter of degree. But for me this is not really the point of the program. What concerns me is the promotion of willful ignorance by special interest group who politicize science. The object of science is to explore difficult questions without bias. The process will sometimes be dangerous or controversial in either a material or moral sense and these are legitimate concerns. However, the questions asked in this story are not about cloning or nuclear fallout. The outcomes of scientific research are sometimes deadly, but ignorance will kill far more in the end.

  3. I need to add my comments Re – Genetic Enginnering to clear up this matter.. This problem is happening because all the trees have the same DNA, so the pesticides used effect them on a large scale. In a forest of trees with various DNA’s the problem will not be as destructive, but it will be there in trees with the same DNA that the pesticides effect.
    If we go down the road of genetic engineering this is what will manifest.

  4. Very interesting story. It would be more interesting to receive details of toxicological screenings that have been done to date. In the early 1990s I published some research on the effects of toxins from Eucalyptus camaldulensis of native freshwater fish. The behaviour, chemical stability and toxicology of the leaf, bark, wood and forest litter toxins that I worked on are relatively well known in natural systems. I’d be keen to discuss results with Marcus Scammell to see if the toxins involved are the same ones that I worked on.

  5. Prbably all of the comments except this one will be negative, on the attack of something not done or needs doing. Something re genetic engineering, etc,etc.. This will go on and on, while here you will read there is already a solution.
    It will not protect all that drink or live in this water just yet, but diseases manifesting in humans from drinking this water Dr Alison Bleaney is seeing can be prevented Now!
    Simply by purifying this water before humans drink it using a simple organic treatment that has evolved from having to treat mineral deficencies in animals occuring where pesticides have been overused; humans have also been drinking for years, lives can be saved Now!
    I wonder how long before it will be Now before this information is acted on!

  6. I have just watched episode 2. There is compelling evidence that genetic modification of the eucalypts is the cause. This requires immediate Commonwealth investigation. There are implications here for all Genetically modified foods.

  7. christopher cummins

    The tv show something in the water , was very interesting , not only the comments by dr alision blaeaney re the number of cancer cases of her patients , my wife and i lived in binalong bay ,and were patients of dr bleaney . On june 2005 , my wife got cancer ,and in july 2005 i also contacted cancer my wife passed on in july 2006 i have had a major operation to remove the cancer.. Is it just a coincidend that we both lived in the area and both got cancer ? And patients of dr blaeaney,, wher do i find the answer , i know the tasmanian goverment will not own up.its not right..

  8. i recall this 7 yrs back. tas govt hiding real causes. thought it was sorted out. were moving from qld to enjoy quiet life in waratah tas soon.will call real estate agent and pull out of contact better to lose a big deposit than start a family in a polluted and corrupt place, congraulations tas govt. and gunns ltd. hold your head high i dont think so. be carefull guys you are looking a lot like new guinea.

  9. When will the people wake up and stand there ground all governments are corrupt and they dont give a dam about you or your kids.Of coarse its the forrestry practice that is the problem.It stincks.The governement will stone wall any one geting in the road of there money making scams.Whats happening to the Tassie forrest is not even good buisness.They will leave a legacy of pollution to to clean up at the peoples expense.Privitized profits and Monitized debt.
    Wake up Australia and sceam from the rooftops.

  10. Its obvious that the tumours were caused by chemicals to me…but which ones,i was thinking 1080 as its still being used in tas forests (or just recently stopped) to kill the smaller animals and kangaroos that eat the plantation saplings,the devills dont hunt,they scavenge…they eat whats dead already!

  11. bernadette daws

    “Something in the Water” – a fascinating episode where we see just a few people from different work environments coming together to explore their concerns and ask for help in resolving what is causing increasing health problems for people, Tasmanian Devils and the large number of oyster deaths. Great stuff!

    I am keen to see part 2 to find out if specific toxins are implicated and named.

    bernadette Adelaide

  12. See:- Michellenye YouTube (4 Louren Moret World Depopulation Programs).
    We uploaded this documentary two weeks before the ABC TV Australia aired ‘Something in the water’ in Tasmanian which is causing cancer in St Helens on the North East coast. Uranium mining began in 1993 the dust from the processing is carried by air currents south east across Tasmania the rain carries the dust onto the catchment area and run down into the rivers and the water consumed by residents where cancers and unusual diseases have exploded. The Tasmanian Devil marsupial kills and eats small mammals the fur has on it the uranium dust from the rain, resulting in a mass outbreak of cancers in the animals mouth and throat.
    Brian Marshall

  13. Can I please get the email adress of Dr Scammell, There is more than one way pesticides get into waterways, some research is being done here in Tassie.
    M

  14. Imforthewhales

    Im keen to see the next part of this documentary.

    So far it hs been a very interesting and intruiging story, & i am eager to find out the end result.

    I do think its a shame however that there is an advertisement for Gunns LTD on this page. I have a feeling that they will be part of the equation.

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