A Parliamentary inquiry to examine the manager of PFAS contamination in and around Defence bases, including HMAS Albatross, has been launched.
The new inquiry will look into the Commonwealth Government’s management of the substance, and will be conducted by the PFAS Sub-Committee of Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, which is chaired by Queensland MP Andrew Laming.
Mr Laming said the inquiry will examine the progress of the Commonwealth Government’s response to and management of PFAS contamination.
It will build on previous parliamentary inquiries into this issue in light of recent developments including the establishment of the whole-of-government PFAS Taskforce and report by the Expert Health Panel for PFAS.
“The Committee shares the concerns of affected communities about the impact of PFAS contamination in and around Defence bases,” Mr Laming said.
“We recognise this is a complex issue requiring responses from Commonwealth, state and territory and local governments.
“This inquiry will examine how the Commonwealth is managing and coordinating these responses to ensure the best outcomes for those communities affected by PFAS contamination.”
The PFAS Sub-Committee invites submissions from anyone with an interest in the issues raised by the terms of reference, which are available on the committee’s website.
The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) revealed in May that elevated levels of PFAS substances in the Shoalhaven River had come from HMAS Albatross.
Numerous studies and investigations have been conducted at the Albatross base, the Jervis Bay Range Facility and HMAS Creswell into contamination from the historical use of firefighting foam.
Per- and poly- fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of chemicals that include perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS).
As they have heat, water and stain repelling properties, PFAS have been widely used in a range of industrial and consumer products both in Australia and internationally, including in fire retardants, waterproofing, food preparation, food packaging, furnishings, clothing and recreational equipment.
There is no consistent evidence of any human health effects related to PFAS exposure. However, based on the evidence from animal studies potential adverse health effects cannot be ruled out.
Submissions addressing the terms of reference should be lodged by July, 6, 2018. For more information, visit https://www.aph.gov.au/jfadt.