Call to expedite soil tests
ANSWERS AN ABSOLUTE PRIORITY – SENATOR
WA GREENS Senator Rachel Siewert wants Airservices Australia to fast track contamination tests on soil and groundwater at Perth Airport after the department admitted a report containing the results, due out in December, could be released as late as April.
Ms Siewert said the organisation had a chance to learn from its past mistakes.
“When handling the contamination of firefighting foams in Williamtown NSW, the Federal Government was so sluggish in its response that the local community was left in the lurch and did not have answers,” she said. “This had long-lasting impacts and could have been avoided.”
A senate inquiry into contamination at Williamtown had found the Federal Government had acted too slowly in response, leading to anxiety among residents who remained in the dark about potential health effects of per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) contamination and the impact on the value of their properties.
PFAS chemicals have been used since the 1950s in a range of household products, including non-stick fry pans and food packaging.
As they are slow to degrade, if leeched into the environment they can build up to toxic levels in fish and other wildlife.
Ms Siewert said providing, “prompt and clear answers to communities who may be affected by the contamination must be an absolute priority.”
A spokeswoman for Airservices Australia said its preliminary site investigation was identifying all potential sources of contamination by the toxic chemical, which was in the firefighting foam used at Perth Airport prior to 2003.
Airservices Australia said it would continue working closely with Perth Airport, and relevant regulators, to progress the site investigation which included repeating testing on soil and water samples from a limited area.