Families from Laramba are taking on the NT government over uranium-contaminated drinking water.
First Nations communities in the NT are experiencing severe water insecurity and toxicity. Together with Grata Fund and Australian Lawyers for Remote Aboriginal Rights, families in the remote community of Laramba are challenging the NT Government's failure to provide safe drinking water to First Nations people in remote public housing.
If successful, the case could secure the human right to clean water for the 76 remote communities in the NT.
People living in Laramba, an Aboriginal community around 200km west of Alice Springs, are fighting for decent housing from the NT government. The only drinking water in their homes is contaminated by uranium.
The NT government is the Laramba community’s landlord. The NT government is also responsible for the water supplied to those communities, through the government-owned Power and Water Corporation (PWC).
Uranium is naturally occurring throughout large parts of the NT and can end up in water supplies through bores. According to PWC, the level of uranium in Laramba is almost three times the level recommended by the Australian drinking water guidelines published by the National Health and Medical Research Council.
The Government has known about the unsafe levels of uranium in the Laramba community’s water since at least 2008 but did nothing to fix the problem.
With no safe source of drinking water, people in Laramba have been forced to pay for bottled drinking water, which is much more expensive because of the cost of getting it to them from Alice Springs.
Contaminated drinking water is a significant problem that affects a number of remote communities in the NT. In 2018, an investigation by the ABC’s 7:30 found that the water provided to seven communities in the NT had exceeded health guidelines due to elevated levels of contaminants including uranium, barium, antimony, chromium and fluoride.
In 2018, the community took the NT government to court, supported by Australian Lawyers for Remote Aboriginal Rights and the Grata community.
The community is continuing its fight, in the hopes of establishing a precedent that forces the NT government to ensure all 76 remote communities have access to safe drinking water.
There are no publicly available documents available for this case