Australian Border Force: Lead, Legionnaires disease scare hits Cape Class Patrol Boats

Australian Border Force: Lead, Legionnaires disease scare hits Cape Class Patrol Boats

Australian Border Force: Lead, Legionnaires disease scare hits Cape Class Patrol Boats

Updated 1 December 2017, 11:15 AEDT

Elevated levels of lead have been found in the drinking water onboard some boats in Border Force's $330 million Cape Class fleet, while Legionella bacteria was found on one vessel.

The Australian Border Force's (ABF) troubled new $330-million fleet of Cape Class Patrol Boats has been hit by a health scare involving lead poisoning and Legionnaires disease.

Elevated levels of lead have been found in the drinking water onboard some boats, while Legionella bacteria was found on one vessel, according to the Immigration Department.

"The ABF is working to determine if the contamination is the result of high lead levels in shore-supplied water or associated with on-board systems," the department said in a statement.

"After annual maintenance, a Cape Class Patrol Boat underwent water testing prior to returning to service. Tests returned a slightly elevated reading of Legionella bacteria."

The department said that vessel was "treated and returned to service".

Some ABF workers have undergone testing for lead poisoning, but so far the results are showing "safe" levels, according to the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU).

"The Australian Border Force Marine Unit didn't actually notify impacted crew or the CPSU, it was only after we heard a rumour that there was an issue on one of the vessels that we chased it up with the employer," CPSU spokeswoman Brooke Muscat-Bentley said.

"That obviously undermined staff's confidence in the employer's ability to take this seriously."

Last month the ABC revealed the ABF was having trouble launching smaller vessels from the Cape Class boats.

Just last week, one of the Cape Class fleet boats, Cape Nelson, crashed into a jetty at Thursday Island.