There are concerns about the extent of PFAS contamination around Amberley RAAF Base.
There are concerns about the extent of PFAS contamination around Amberley RAAF Base.

Residents still waiting for answers on PFAS contamination

RESIDENTS living within the department of defence's PFAS investigation area are still waiting for answers around how the contamination could be impacting their health.

A detailed environmental investigation into the presence of per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) on and in the vicinity of the RAAF Base at Amberley was launched in March 2018.

A Human Health Risk Assessment (HHRA) was carried out at the base and its surroundings to assess the level of contamination and resulting potential risk to human health and the environment.

The report confirmed PFAS compounds were detected in soil, sediment, groundwater, surface water, tank water and edible products.

The investigation area was expanded to include the Heritage Links residential area at Leichardt.

It's based on the old Ipswich Golf Club, which was once irrigated with water from the Bremer River, potentially contaminated with PFAS.

An addendum to the HHRA, which will assess PFAS exposure-risks in the expanded investigation area, was expected to be published in the second quarter of 2020.

The next community engagement event was also due to be held in the second quarter of this year.

 

Map showing the waterways that fall under the public health advice for catch and release only. People should not consume fish caught in these areas.
Map showing the waterways that fall under the public health advice for catch and release only. People should not consume fish caught in these areas.

When the QT asked why neither of these had occurred, a department of defence spokesperson said "Defence is continuing to finalise the Ecological Risk Assessment and the Human Health Risk Assessment Addendum."

"The reports are being reviewed in consultation with the Queensland Government. Defence will use the findings to develop a PFAS Management Area Plan, which will recommend actions to monitor and manage PFAS on and near RAAF Base Amberley.

"Defence has continued to keep the Amberley community informed through the investigation website and the dedicated information line, 1800 817 751."

Member for Blair Shayne Neumann said the government's response had been inadequate and said free blood testing should at least be offered to residents.

"In November last year I wrote to the health minister to extend the current blood testing programs to Amberley and he refused," he said.

"I think there's a need for voluntary blood testing and if people have been impacted then there's the potential for civil litigation."

The State Government has also maintained: "The effects of exposure to PFAS to human health are currently unknown, but the potential for adverse health effects cannot be excluded."

Other countries, including Germany and the United States, have published information linking PFAS to testicular cancer, kidney cancer, thyroid disease, high cholesterol, elevated blood pressure during pregnancy and the weight of newborns.