DEFENCE has reacted to a wave of community concern over the impact of toxic PFAS contaminated water by organising three community meetings within four days.
The consultations come as hundreds sign up to separate class action law suits over the potentially cancer-causing firefighting foams used at air force bases around the nation.
PFAS first rose to notoriety in the Northern Territory when it was discovered the firefighting foam had run from the Katherine Tindal airport into waterways.
It has since been revealed the chemical foam was used from the 1970s to 2004, and Katherine residents have been put on to bottled water.
Defence stopped using firefighting foam containing PFAS in 2004 when it was found some of its contaminants didn’t break down in the environment and could leach into groundwater.
The impact on human health from exposure to these chemicals remains unclear, along with safe levels in drinking water.
Advertised in the NT News yesterday, the walk-in sessions will “include a presentation on information gathered during the Detailed Site Investigation”.
“There will also be an opportunity for the community to ask questions one-on-one about the environmental investigation with Defence, contracted experts and other government agencies,” the advertisement stated.
Federal member for Solomon Luke Gosling said he was concerned to hear some residents were approached by lawyers before Defence to be told they could be affected by PFAS. “It is concerning to me that people are anxious, not knowing whether they’ve got contamination or not,” he said.
“Hopefully, it looks like we haven’t got the contamination here in Darwin that they have in Katherine, but it would be preferable that that is confirmed through Defence this week.”
Mr Gosling said he had called for briefings from Defence about the PFAS levels in Darwin, but had not received any yet.
The community walk-in session will be held on Wednesday at Charles Darwin University from 5pm, while a community stand will be in place in Casuarina Square on Thursday from 9am to 5pm. In Katherine, the meeting will be held tomorrow night.