“Ohakea residents affected by chemical contamination from the Air Force base need more and better testing and more open information from the Defence Force, lawyer Tim Gunn says.

But a Defence Force spokesperson says it has been completely open and is using the right test for this stage.

Gunn works for Shine Lawyers in Auckland, which deals in civil and insurance litigation. The law firm’s Australian parent company is working on a class action lawsuit against the Australian Defence Force concerning exposure to chemicals in Oakey, Queensland.

In December the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) told councils and residents that PFAS chemicals used in firefighting foams were present in groundwater around its Ohakea air base. Gunn said NZDF knew about the contamination as early as mid-2015.

‘This is a dangerous case of the perpetrators also being the gatekeepers to vital information that holds life-altering weight to the community’…

Gunn has seen people harvesting watercress from ponds near the base. He said residents should ask for tests of surface water, soil, plants and their own blood as well as the groundwater tests.

Residents have been advised not to eat a lot of food from their land, as a precaution, because small amounts of the chemical can accumulate in their bodies.

Gunn also said New Zealand tests for PFAS compounds are not as effective as the TOP Assay test used in Australia. But the NZDF spokesperson said current tests were to assess the risk to households and the TOP Assay test would be used if long-term remediation was done.”

Read the full article by Laurel Stowell