Contamination issue unresolved
Officials are still battling to resolve water contamination problems near the O¯ hakea air force base almost a year after the saga came to light.
And some are losing patience – calling on the Government to take action and the Defence Force to release information more quickly.
Horizons Regional Council and the Manawatu¯ and Rangitı¯kei district councils dispatched a letter to Environment Minister David Parker, seeking long-term action and a commitment to monitoring.
However, the minister is waiting for further information.
In a Horizons Regional Council meeting recently, chief executive Michael McCartney said key problems needed to be tackled.
A long-term, durable alternative water supply was needed for residents whose water supply had been contaminated, and officials had to move to contain any damage or reverse it. Testing near the base started in December last year after the discovery of contamination resulting from the use of toxic firefighting foam. The type of foam, which is mostly used in training to fight fuel fires, was banned in 2006 because it contains harmful chemicals.
In late January this year, it was confirmed the toxic chemicals were present in high levels at nearby properties, including in water that residents had been drinking. Officials have said this should not result in acute health problems.
McCartney said Horizons wanted ongoing commitment from the Government to water monitoring.
The letter from the councils said they felt there was a need to improve the timely supply of data and information, particularly from the Defence Force.
A Defence Force spokesman said all test results were provided to the councils through the ‘‘all of Government’’ response group, which was set up last year to manage the situation. ‘‘With the large volume of samples collected and the detailed analysis and quality assurance requirements of the laboratories, this process is time-intensive and is not directly controlled by [the Defence Force].’’
A spokesman for Parker said he was expecting more information before he decided on his next step.
He said discussions were under way between the Government response group, councils and a O¯ hakea community group about management of the toxic chemicals in the environment after the fourth stage of testing.
A long-term, durable alternative water supply was needed for residents whose water supply had been contaminated.