Read the full article by Roxanne Fitzgerald (ABC Katherine)

“Cossack resident Jens Ambjerg-Peterson wants to know why his property was not tested for PFAS after the chemical, associated with various cancers and other health problems, was detected in his suburb.

He is among residents on Katherine’s south-western outskirts whose sense of security was shattered by last month’s discovery that the chemical is continuing to spread more than half a decade after it was found to be leaching into the Katherine township’s drinking water

Mr Ambjerg-Peterson’s house was outside a PFAS contamination zone that was created after the chemical was discovered in a river by the Department of Defence in 2016, and traced back to the Tindal Royal Australian Air Force Base.

PFAS chemicals were used in firefighting foams at Australian defence bases until the early 2000s.

The lines of the contamination zone have since been redefined, but residents in the area say they have been kept in the dark.

‘Six private properties within the Cossack area have been monitored under the Ongoing Monitoring Plan since 2019,’ a department spokeswoman said.

She said another nine private properties were added to the monitoring program in 2021, bringing the total to 15.

Properties left untested 

According to the the most recent Census, there were 625 homes in Cossack and more than 1,200 residents.

Mr Ambjerg-Peterson said his bore had never been tested for PFAS.

‘The boundary is the bitumen road at the front of my house … it’s been a designated line in the sand and that line is 4 metres from my bore,’ he said.

“That’s our only water source. We don’t have a water tank.

He said most properties in the area were dependent on bore water for irrigation and drinking.

Dangers of PFAS

The Commonwealth’s Expert Health Panel for PFAS said there was limited-to-no evidence of human disease or other clinically significant harm resulting from PFAS exposure but as a precaution, recommends minimal exposure to PFAS wherever possible.

In the US, renowned activist Erin Brockovich said research was uncovering strong links to reproductive issues and some cancers.

A Four Corners investigation in 2017 revealed the Defence Department knew about the dangers of the firefighting foam as early as 1987, but continued to use it.”…