LEAD contamination at Wangaratta has forced two sporting groups to abandon their facilities following notice from the Environment Protection Authority.
A Department of Health and Human Services spokesman said Wangaratta Council became aware of the problem at North Wangaratta Sports Reserve late last week.
The EPA took five soil samples from the perimeter of the oval for testing.
Results indicated lead levels were significantly above the Health Investigation Level for a recreational area.
Steps have since been taken to suspend all activity and restrict access to the ground.
The North Wangaratta Football and Netball Club moved its Saturday game to Whorouly Memorial Oval.
Wangaratta Clay Target Club was also unable to use its facilities.
The DHHS could not put a time frame on how long it would take to determine the full extent of the contamination or how long it would take to resolve.
The spokesman said, at this stage, it was an “entirely precautionary measure”.
Council’s chief executive Brendan McGrath said the EPA had initially responded to a complaint about potential contamination.
“Given the elevated results and the potential for people to be exposed to lead, the Department of Health and Human Services has recommended that, as a precautionary measure, we should restricts access to the site,” he said.
“We have notified the sporting clubs affected and access has been restricted.
“Further discussions will take place with the affected clubs and the North Wangaratta Sports Reserve Special Committee early next week.”
A fact sheet was distributed to stakeholders outlining what the issue was and how it could affect peoples’ health.
Lead exposure can occur through through ingesting contaminated soil or dust or drinking contaminated water.
It can cause symptoms including headaches, tiredness, weakness and joint pain.
People who have recently accessed the area are advised to wash their hands and arms with soap, use a nail brush to clean under nails and, if you walked through the area, remove shoes before going indoors.
Council will need to commission further environmental investigation to determine the source and extent of contamination and the risk to the community.
More information wangaratta.vic.gov.au.