Investigation begins over water saga
Manawatu¯ ’s mayor and Horizons Regional Council are stepping up pressure on the Government to deal more effectively with fallout from the Ohakea airbase water contamination saga.
Manawatu¯ mayor Helen Worboys has visited residents around the base because of community concerns about the quality of information being provided.
Some had talked about suffering headaches and illness, she said.
‘‘What I am hearing from our affected community members is that the information they are being provided with is inconsistent and unclear,’’ she said.
Legal action could result from the saga, with Horizons Regional Council officially investigating the incident.
The Defence Force stopped using a specific firefighting foam in 2002 after concerns were raised about two chemicals, PFOS and PFOA.
It got initial results back about possible contamination of water in 2015, but did not inform the Government until August.
The Ministry for the Environment has since done testing at Ohakea, and found 19 properties near the base had the toxic foam contaminants on the land.
There were also higher-thanacceptable levels of the chemicals in drinking water on 13 properties tested.
Some local farmers have told Stuff they were not notified of the issue, while law firm Shine Lawyers – which is running a class action against the Australian Defence Force over similar issues – has started meeting with people potentially affected.
Officials in New Zealand have said the problem is much worse in Australia because of the amount of area involved and concentration of chemicals.
Nonetheless, Worboys said people had reported animals performing poorly on land near the Ohakea base, but then seeming to recover when moved.
‘‘In addition to water use, residents have concerns about the future of their farms, and are asking for further testing of the soil.
‘‘These people, many of whom have lived here for generations, are genuinely worried about their future.’’
Horizons chief executive Michael McCartney said the lack of good information was concerning, with the council becoming aware just before the story broke in December.
Manawatu¯ mayor Helen Worboys says people living near Ohakea are reporting illness.