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Public briefing on poisonous PFAS chemicals spread from RAAF base 

Aug 17, 2023

Hawkesbury residents will be able to attend a long-awaited briefing next week about – dangerous PFAS chemicals that have spread from the Richmond RAAF based and have been linked to water and soil contamination, as well as a group of cancers and other human health problems.

The Federal Member for Macquarie Susan Templeman undertook to resume Defence briefings in recent months and will appear along with Assistant Defence Minister Matt Thistlethwaite and departmental officials on Tuesday August 22 at the Richmond Club where there will be an afternoon and evening session.

PFAS chemicals were used for decades in firefighting foam at the Richmond RAAF base and other defence facilities around Australia – and across the globe. Recently, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was the first Australian leader to acknowledge the concerns about impacts of PFAS on human health. 

Pfas has now been found beyond the coloured area in the map.

There have been clusters of higher than usual disease levels around a number of other defence bases in Australia including RAAF Williamtown, near Newcastle and in the Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community near HMAS Creswell at Jervis Bay,

“I know PFAS is something that some people would rather not think about but it’s an inescapable fact that the soils and water table around the RAAF Base Richmond are contaminated, so it’s important for people to get the latest information,” Templeman told the Hawkesbury Post

“Although this has been on some people’s radar for several years, there are residents who are either new to the area or just starting to understand that PFAS won’t just disappear.

“I’d encourage people living in and around the Base to come along for information and an understanding of the challenges it poses and the steps being taken here locally by Defence to clean up their site.”

The briefing comes only months after the recent second class action settlement against the Department of Defence for the deterioration of land values around the base due to chemical contamination which saw the Defence department. Over 30,000 people across eight sites including Richmond, will share in $132.7 million under the settlement that many have decried as being insufficient. 

The Federal government and the Department of Defence has known about how dangerous PFAS chemicals – also known as “forever” chemicals because they do not deteriorate in nature –  for decades. Yet Australians affected by the chemicals have largely been left in the dark.

The extent of the spread of PFAS in the Hawkesbury is still emerging with governments at every level in apparent denial. “Safe” levels of PFAS in soil, farm products including animals and driving water are higher in Australia than the USA. Testing on and around the base was undertaken in 2018/2019 but little testing has been done since then.

Western Sydney University stopped using “grey water” to irrigate its land for many months after tests showed higher than acceptable PFAS levels last year. Unlike Sydney Water, Hawkesbury City Council has said it does not test the grey water from its sewerage treatment plan for PFAS.

  • Date: Tuesday 22 August 2023
  • Venue: Richmond Club, 6 East Market Street, Richmond NSW 2753
  • Times:
    – Session 1: 12–2pm
    – Session 2: 5–7pm

Register and submit any questions in advance by using the registration form, or via defence.omp@aecom.com or 0499 888 783.

 

 




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