In­ves­ti­ga­tion of chem­i­cals in new phase

Southern Telegraph - - News - Ai­den Boy­ham

The Depart­ment of De­fence held a spe­cial com­mu­nity walk-in ses­sion at Quest Rock­ing­ham last Wed­nes­day, out­lin­ing the next phase of its in­ves­ti­ga­tion into toxic fire­fight­ing chem­i­cals that were found on HMAS Stir­ling last year.

HMAS Stir­ling on Gar­den Is­land, which is the Royal Aus­tralian Navy’s pri­mary base on the west coast, was caught up in an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the long-term ef­fects of par­tic­u­lar fire­fight­ing foams used at mil­i­tary bases across the coun­try.

Ini­tially, there were fears the per­flu­o­roalkyl and polyflu­o­roalkyl sub­stances, known oth­er­wise as PFAS, could have con­tam­i­nated Cock­burn Sound.

Those fears were al­layed in April af­ter the Cock­burn Sound Man­age­ment Coun­cil re­vealed pre­lim­i­nary sam­pling found there was no ev­i­dence of PFAS con­tam­i­na­tion, with con­cen­tra­tions found to be be­low the Aus­tralian Govern­ment’s health-based recre­ational wa­ter guide­lines.

Depart­ment of De­fence first as­sis­tant sec­re­tary in­fra­struc­ture Chris Bir­rer told the Telegraph the pre­lim­i­nary site in­ves­ti­ga­tion had fin­ished, with the DoD now mov­ing on to a de­tailed site in­ves­ti­ga­tion at HMAS Stir­ling.

“It would in­volve the col­lec­tion of about 500 sam­ples of ground­wa­ter, sur­face wa­ter, soil and sed­i­ment to bet­ter un­der­stand the true na­ture and ex­tent of PFAS in the en­vi­ron­ment there,” Mr Bir­rer said.

“So far, the pre­lim­i­nary site in­ves­ti­ga­tion sug­gests that it is ex­tremely un­likely PFASim­pacted ground­wa­ter will mi­grate from the base into the main­land due to the lay­ers of rock and soil that re­strict wa­ter flow.”

Mr Bir­rer said af­ter the sam­pling and anal­y­sis of the 500 or so sam­ples, an en­vi­ron­men­tal sci­ence as­sess­ment would later be made pub­lic by the mid­dle of next year.

“While De­fence isn’t a health au­thor­ity, the cur­rent health ad­vice is that there is no con­sis­tent ev­i­dence of ad­verse hu­man health im­pact from these chem­i­cals,” he said.

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