“In an unpleasant surprise for firefighting foam investigators, the toxic chemicals have now been found in the drinking water of a Rangitikei town.

The Health Ministry said the chemicals were at levels well below maximum safety guidelines and Bulls water was still safe to drink.

The fact the chemicals were in the water beneath Bulls was mystifying investigators, however.

Ōhakea airbase had levels in at least one test well that were very, very high, and surrounding groundwater and the drinking water of at least seven properties had concentrations above safety maximums.

However, Rangitikei mayor Andy Watson said the town’s bores were upstream and across the river.

‘We didn’t expect to find any trace of contaminants, and nor did the Ministry of Defence,’ Mr Watson said.

‘The information that we had been given was that any water movement would tend to be out towards the coast’…

In Bulls, though, four out of five bores have the chemicals in them. Mr Watson said the fifth clear bore was the largest source of drinking water, and was being cranked up to supply more as the second round of tests was carried out.

He said one theory was the contamination might be linked to firefighting at a Skyhawk crash site in the 1980s. The chemicals are very long lasting.

The highest test results were at 11 [parts per trillion (ppt)]. The guideline maximum is 70.

The Defence Force said it was ‘highly unlikely’ the chemicals came from Ōhakea, and retesting was under way.”

Read the full article by Phil Pennington. **The article incorrectly uses “parts per billion” instead of “parts per trillion” when reporting the PFAS levels**