Oakey water contamination crisis: Defence Minister implored to visit town

by Matthew Killoran and Rhian Deutrom, originally posted on June 4, 2016


HEALTH Minister Cameron Dick has demanded the Federal Government front up to Oakey to deal with the “significant public unease” created by its mishandling of the growing water contamination crisis.

The Department of Defence has come under fire for its lack of action over the contamination caused by the use of toxic firefighting foam at its Oakey base seeping into the town’s bore water supply, as extensively reported in The Courier-Mail.

Residents have been clamouring for the department to pay for blood tests, with chemicals PFOS and PFOA linked to a range of cancers and thyroid disease.

A damning report shows Defence was told about the dangers of PFOS and PFOA in 2003, but failed to warn residents until 2012.

Mr Dick yesterday wrote to Defence Minister Marise Payne inviting her to join him on a visit to Oakey to hear first-hand the impacts of the contamination.

“The significant public unease in Oakey about the way that this matter has been handled by the Department of ­Defence can be addressed through your attendance in the town,” he said.

“This would be an important sign to the community how seriously you take these issues.”

He wrote that a Senate committee into the crisis recommended Defence fund voluntary blood testing for Oakey residents on an annual basis, while a counselling service would be set up for those affected.

Mr Dick said he had Queensland Health investigating the cost and capacity to deliver the testing.

“It is my expectation that the Department of Defence will play its part by funding both these ­responses,” he said.

Ms Payne’s office was contacted for comment but did not reply before deadline.

Labor defence spokesman Stephen Conroy yesterday announced a $21 million assistance package for residents in towns that are affected.

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