“Farmers near Esso’s Longford gas plant and the East Sale RAAF Base in Gippsland have been warned not to eat meat, offal or dairy from their own livestock due to contamination by toxic chemicals but there are no restrictions on them selling such products.
Elevated levels of PFAS — per- and poly-fluoroalkyl chemicals historically used in firefighting foam — have been detected in 45 cattle and 45 sheep on three properties near Esso Longford, Victoria’s chief veterinary officer Dr Charles Milne has confirmed to The Age.
Another cattle herd near the RAAF Base was also tested recently for PFAS but the results were not yet in, Dr Milne said.
The two sites are among about 90 locations around Australia where PFAS has been detected. At least 16 of those sites are in Victoria, The Age revealed this week…
Gippsland is renowned for its dairy, beef and fisheries, as well as natural attractions including unspoilt beaches and wetland areas of international significance.
However, its rich resources including coal and gas reserves mean it has for many years attracted some of the heaviest industry in Victoria.
PFAS has spread beyond the boundaries of both RAAF East Sale and Esso Longford, and has been detected on nearby properties as well as popular nearby hunting and fishing spots.
It has been measured in levels above Australian government guidelines in some groundwater, surface water, soils and sediment near both the Esso and RAAF sites, including at adjacent properties, in water sources that could be used for livestock.
Esso has fenced off some seven dams on properties near its Longford plant to stop livestock from drinking PFAS-contaminated water. Current government guidelines do not specify acceptable levels of PFAS for irrigation or livestock watering.
Such is the concern among nearby residents and farmers that some are considering a class action and have made plans to meet in the next few weeks to decide how to proceed. Many are, however, reluctant to speak publicly due to the effect that PFAS contamination could have on their livelihoods.
The potential risks to humans of consuming livestock exposed to PFAS depend on the likelihood of people eating sufficient quantities, Dr Milne said.”
Read the full article by Debbie Cuthbertson