FILE PHOTO: E. Coli bacteria.
FILE PHOTO: E. Coli bacteria. Janice Carr

Workers' drinking water contaminated at TSRC worksite

TESTING has confirmed the presence of E. coli bacteria in drinking water tanks on the $1.6 billion Toowoomba Second Range Crossing construction. 

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union said a number of workers had taken sick, with subsequent testing of drinking water supplies on the project confirming the presence of the bacteria.

Workers have been in contact with The Chronicle after Nexus told crews their drinking water was contaminated on Monday.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, workers said Nexus would not release the results of the water report. 

"We were told on Monday the water was contaminated - all the water we used the previous week was contaminated, but with what, we don't know. They won't tell us," one worker said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. 

The worker said the affected drinking water tanks were in the central and western areas of the worksite. 

The E. coli contamination is the latest in a long list of health and safety issues to plague the TSRC construction since work began almost two years ago. 

According to Queensland Health, the presence of E. coli can indicate faecal contamination of water.

"Most types of E. coli are harmless, and their presence in the water suggests only that faecal contamination may have occurred and that disease causing organisms may be present."

Health risks include abdominal pain, diarrhea and kidney failure in extreme cases.

CFMEU Queensland and Northern Territory Divisional Branch Assistant Secretary Jade Ingham said for workers to be subjected to such third world conditions was a disgrace. 

"Unfortunately, it is not surprising given the atrocious safety record of Acciona/Ferrovial on this project," he said. 

Since the project began almost two years ago, Workplace Health and Safety Queensland has made more than 200 site visits and issued 87 statutory notices to builder Nexus, a consortium of investment companies and a Spanish construction joint venture of Acciona Infrastructure and Ferrovial Agroman.

The Chronicle has contacted Nexus for comment.