On PFAS

Sunday Territorian - - NEWS - PHILLIPPA BUTT

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.

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