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Firefighting foam chemical report reveals serious contamination at Defence sites

Media Release
Lee Rhiannon 8 Nov 2016
Greens NSW Senator Lee Rhiannon has commented on the release of results from preliminary tests for per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) resulting from the legacy use of firefighting foams. The tests were conducted at 12 sites around the country. 
 
“The Defence PFAS Environmental Management Preliminary Sampling Program Final Report is the first stage in an ongoing investigation of this national contamination crisis. The 1000 plus page report includes the preliminary results for per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS),” Senator Rhiannon said. 
 
“This is a national environmental issue, it is a workplace safety issue, it is a public health issue and it is deserving of serious, urgent action from the government.
 
“Even by Defence’s own contentiously high standards, PFAS interim screening levels have been exceeded at three Defence sites around the country – the RAAF base in Townsville, the HMAS Creswell Jervis Bay Range Facility and HMAS Sterling (Garden Island) in Western Australia.
 
“Twelve sites with a history of legacy firefighting foam use were subject to Defence’s preliminary sampling program to determine the presence of PFAS. These chemicals were detected on or near all twelve sites. All of these sites will now be subject to further investigation. 
 
“We must not have another twelve repeats of the situation in Williamtown, which culminated in a class action lawsuit being filed against the Department of Defence last week.
 
“Over the past year we have witnessed an extraordinary display of passivity from the federal government, to the point where the NSW government stated that they were ‘filling a void’ that Defence had left.
 
“At Williamtown where a Red Zone was declared to mark out high levels of contamination that originated from the RAAF base the Department of Defence and the Turnbull government comprehensively failed the community.
 
“They did not communicate clearly on their plan for remediation, whether or not they would guarantee some level of compensation, or on the critical issue of property devaluations and buybacks.
 
“Defence must learn from their mistakes. At the very least the Turnbull government should instruct the Department of Defence to ensure that every workplace and community in the vicinity of these investigations is consulted with, clearly and immediately,” Senator Rhiannon said. 
 
Defence PFAS Environmental Management Preliminary Sampling Program Final Report
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