“People affected by Ōhakea’s contaminated groundwater have faith in the government process but want tests for toxic compounds in their bodies, spokesman Andy Russell says.

He’s the chairman of a committee representing about 300 people who live on or own land around the air force base where groundwater is contaminated with PFAS compounds from foam used for firefighting. His deer farm neighbours the base, and he lives 9km away.

Auckland company Shine Lawyers has suggested residents take a class action against the New Zealand Defence Force. Russell said he had met some of the lawyers, but the group was not interested.

‘The committee is committed to a negotiated settlement of this issue. We will employ a lawyer at some point. That’s where we are going. We are quite united in that.’

One issue with the contamination is how the compounds might affect people exposed to them since birth – people drinking bore water or swimming in highly contaminated ponds.

Some in the group have met a MidCentral public health officer and would like the level of compounds in their bodies tested…

The other issue could be an effect on land values. That hasn’t been tested, because none of the affected land has been sold…

People who live close to the base have been asked not to consume too much local produce, as a precaution, and soil testing could be done later.”

Read the full article by Laurel Stowell