Related — PFAS chemical risk spans area the size of 20 Sydney Harbours, inquiry told

“A contamination expert is warning a federal parliamentary inquiry that the spread of potentially harmful chemicals once used in firefighting foam is likely to have affected many more parts of Australia than previously reported.

The expert said the sites included all Australian airports, all landfill sites, and any locations where there had been a large fuel or chemical fire in the past 50 years.

Adding to concerns, the ABC understands the Queensland Government, in its submission to the federal inquiry, said it knew of 15 sites in the state with contamination, including seven airports.

It told the federal inquiry a further and full investigation was needed to determine ‘the nature and extent of PFAS contamination at airports’.

Last year, researchers from two Queensland universities estimated Australia has 600 registered landfill sites, and up to 2,000 unregulated ones.

In his submission to the inquiry, Associate Professor Robert Niven, from the University of NSW in Canberra, said sites highly likely to be contaminated with PFAS chemicals included:

  • Australian firefighter training sites
  • offshore and onshore oil and gas facilities
  • road tanker fuel loading facilities
  • chemical storage facilities
  • wastewater treatment plants
  • ports importing or exporting fuels; and
  • rail facilities where fuel was stored.

Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles said the Federal Government needed to do more to address community concerns on PFAS.

‘They’ve failed frankly in managing the sites that they are responsible for,’ he said.

‘Understandably there is a very high level of community concern about these pollutants.

‘We’ve called upon the Commonwealth to ban their use federally, they continue to use them at sites that they regulate.’

The State Government’s submission also suggested the Commonwealth offer blood tests to people who have been potentially exposed to high levels of the chemicals…

The environmental engineer’s warning comes as the ABC can reveal a woman living near and working at the Gold Coast’s airport, where contamination has been confirmed, had blood tests that showed her PFAS levels were in the top 5 per cent of results for her age.

Jackie McDonald worked at the airport as an Aboriginal stakeholder overseeing cultural sites and has regularly eaten seafood from the neighbouring Cobaki Broadwater where the chemicals have been detected…

‘I am constantly listening to my body to see if it is telling me anything, it is a constant worry,’ she said…

Ms McDonald is a member of the community group the Tugun Cobaki Alliance, which has previously raised concerns about PFAS contamination at the Gold Coast airport.

She wants further testing of PFAS contamination in the area and more blood tests for workers and residents…

In his submission to the federal inquiry, which is focusing on Defence bases, Associate Professor Niven said that all of the possible PFAS large contamination sites in Australia need to be investigated by the Federal Government.”

Read the full article by Elise Kinsella