“A green-waste recycling company that was about to sell compost allegedly containing high levels of chemicals used in toxic fire-fighting foam had previously accepted tonnes of mulch from the Royal Australian Air Force base at Amberley

The air base, just west of Brisbane, has been significantly contaminated by the per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) chemicals and concerns have been raised about the disposal of water, sludge and soil during major works on facilities for new aircraft on the site.

Early this year, Queensland Environment Department regulators alleged they had found high levels of the PFAS chemicals in compost that was about to be sold by Wood Mulching Industries and issued a notice suspending the sale.

When asked about the suspension, WMI managing director Tyler North told The Australian the company had received no waste from Amberley.

However Mr North this week said that after checking his company’s records he could confirm it had taken trees and mulch from Amberley over the past couple of years.

‘We knocked over some trees and vegetation and cleared some in various spots around the air base and we were originally grinding it on site but then we did take some of it away,’ he said.

Mr North said the company had also taken away about 500 to 600 cubic metres of mulch that had been produced by another operator on the site. ‘There was somebody looking to get rid of it and we take green waste.’

He said he thought it was unlikely the levels recorded on WMI’s samples were from the material coming from ­Amberley. ‘That’s not enough to cause a spike or anything like that,’ he said. ‘It’s everywhere … the stuff comes in through sewage.’

Mr North said the company had been given ‘zero’ warning about the issue of PFAS or related chemicals. ‘The only thing they were very careful about was asbestos, because some of the trees had been planted over and … we didn’t take the (tree) stumps,’ he said.”

Read the full article by Rory Callinan