Call to ex­pe­dite soil tests


Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - NEWS - So­phie Moore

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.

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