Con­tam­i­na­tion is­sue un­re­solved

The Dominion Post - - News - Kirsty Lawrence

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.

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