AN investigation into the existence of potentially toxic chemicals at Bathurst Airport is continuing as media reports have raised new concerns about the dangers.
An international Fairfax Media investigation into the effects of per- and poly-fluoroalkyl [PFAS] chemicals has unearthed “cancer clusters” both near the Williamtown airport base – where the chemcials were used as fire retardants – and near the 3M plant in Minnesota where the chemicals were produced.
In Australia, the Environment Protection Authority rates PFAS an “emerging contaminant [meaning] their ecological and/or human health effects are unclear”.
Soil and water testing at Bathurst Airport last year found evidence of PFAS chemicals and Bathurst Regional Council has started a process to determine the concentrations of the chemicals and how far from the airport they may have spread.
Council general manager David Sherley said that investigation was continuing and “progressing well”.
“The EPA and council are working closely with stakeholders to keep the community informed of the investigation process,” he said.
“Regular communication has been made with relevant stakeholders and updates were provided directly to most stakeholders recently.
“The results of the investigation will be referred to the NSW PFAS Taskforce, which is made up of technical experts from the NSW Food Authority, Department of Health, Department of Primary Industry, Office of the Chief Scientist and Engineer as well as independent experts.
“Once the investigation results are reviewed by the taskforce, any tailored advice that might be required by residents about their water use and home consumption of produce will be provided to them.
“The NSW PFAS Taskforce must undertake its review before any future actions can be determined.”
NSW Health says “there is no conclusive evidence that PFASs cause any specific illnesses, including cancer”.