Oakey water contamination levels up over just last three months

by Rhian Deutrom, originally posted on June 21, 2016


FRESH questions about the extent of the Oakey water contamination crisis have been sparked by alarming test results showing toxic chemical levels are 425 times over the globally accepted maximum exposure limits.

Water samples collected around Oakey by The Courier-Mail this month have found shocking amounts of deadly perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), despite the Defence Department discontinuing their use in firefighting foam at the Army Aviation Base in 2006.

The findings have alarmed experts and will likely add to mounting pressure on Defence Minister Marise Payne, who confirmed she would visit Oakey on Thursday.

The Courier-Mail collected samples from Oakey Creek, a local easement and an irrigation bore for independent testing and analysis.

The water samples, collected under the guidance of organic chemists from Australian Laboratory Services, found PFOS and PFOA levels in Oakey Creek at more than 12 times the accepted maximum exposure limits of 0.07 micrograms per litre. Samples from the easement produced levels almost 14 times greater than acceptable.

But the most staggering result was found in the irrigation bore of local father Brad Hudson with PFOS at more than 425 times the maximum exposure limits, which was 42 per cent higher than his last test, three months ago.

Mr Hudson’s bore also recorded PFOA at 23 times the maximum limit.

The father-of-three is one of many Oakey men diagnosed with testicular cancer, which last month was linked to PFOS and PFOA exposure by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

His daughter Amba, 5, recorded PFOS and PFOA in her blood at 30 times the Australian average.

“This is the hardest position to be in as a parent … there isn’t a night I don’t think about what I’m subjecting my kids to before I shut my eyes,” Mr Hudson said.

National Toxics Network chemical expert Dr Mariann Lloyd-Smith said results were “extremely concerning. The levels we are seeing here should be ringing every alarm bell,” Dr Lloyd-Smith said.

State Environment Minister Steven Miles said the results showed Defence that contamination was “substantial and persistent”.

“If this were a private company EHP would be using its regulatory and compliance powers to require tests like this be performed and reported. But, because EHP can’t use those powers over Defence, we call upon Malcolm Turnbull to ensure the Commonwealth does everything we would expect of a private company.’’

Toowoomba Regional Council Mayor Paul Antonio said his council would continue to push the Federal Government and Defence to act for Oakey.

Shine Lawyers partner Peter Shannon said the results demonstrated how “incredibly polluted the army base is”.

Learn More