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Monday, 23 November 2015
Page: 13247

Mr BALDWIN (Paterson) (13:53): I raise the issue of firefighting foam contamination of perfluorooctane sulphonate originating from RAAF Base Williamtown, which has severely impacted on my community. There are PFOS levels reported as 100 times higher the acceptable health risk. Make no mistake: the PFOS contaminant originates from the RAAF base. Therefore, the Department of Defence and the Commonwealth are 100 per cent responsible and bear 100 per cent of the responsibility to put into place immediately an action plan to remedy the situation. The impacts on localised industries are not insignificant. There are now reports that the banks are black-listing for bank loans in the red zone investigation area.

Defence's evidence to the Senate committee hearing in October was that it was monitoring rather than containing contaminated surface water leaving the base. The first thing that has to be done is to contain the discharges from the Williamtown base. If you have a hole in a boat and it is leaking water, you do not just bail the water—you stop the leak. The contaminant levels need to be contained not monitored, because in the next storm event more PFOS will be flushed from the base into my local community. Defence needs to urgently communicate its plan to stop the PFOS continuing to contaminate the surrounding areas, as it has now been 81 days since the story broke let alone the years that Defence has known of the issue. Now, 81 days on, a detailed plan on how to stop the leakage has to be delivered to the community. The time for action is now.