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Byron Shire
October 19, 2021

Greens want details of airport’s toxic chemicals released

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The Gold Coast airport expansion to accommodate the antiquated ILS will wipe out hectares of important wetland in NSW.

The Greens have stepped up their calls for action to deal with contamination at the Gold Coast Airport.

Opponents of airport’s controversial runway expansion plan have called for an immediate halt to the plan after it was revealed toxic chemicals had contaminated the land on the NSW side of the border where a new instrument landing system (ILS) is set to be built.

The site has been used by Air Services Australia for fire training exercises using firefighting foam, which the ILS plan says contains  Perflurooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and Perflurooctanoic acid (PFOA).

Both chemicals were recently revealed to have contaminated land at Williamtown RAAF Base and Newcastle Airport, including an extensive area of groundwater systems and waterways, and found in fish downstream of them.

Now, a report from the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) has added further concerns.

The report sets out new safe water health advisory levels for firefighting chemicals linked with local pollution levels.

Greens candidate Dawn Walker and Greens NSW Senator Lee Rhiannon have been working together on the issue to ensure full public disclosure on the extent of the contamination at the airport.

Ms Walker said the report by the US Environmental Protection Agency was a wake up call to health and airport authorities that they cannot downplay the seriousness of the contamination around the airport.

‘State and federal authorities should quickly issue a responsible plan to deal with the serious implications of this contamination,’ Ms Walker said.

‘Full transparency on all aspects of the contamination is essential. The Greens are calling for details of the extent of the toxic pollution to be released to the public.

‘I am working with Senator Rhiannon who is pushing for the release of the 2007 report referred to in the ILS Master plan that reveals contamination had been found west of the runway,” Ms Walker said.

Senator Rhiannon said  the  US EPA reassessment of the dangers posed by fire fighting chemicals must result in a rapid and more thorough response to how the Gold Coast Airport contamination was being handled.

‘The Australian advised levels issued in 2009 for the safe levels of these chemicals in drinking water were 0.4 parts per billion for PFOA and 0.2 parts per billion for PFOS,’ she said.

‘The new levels issued by the US EPA are 0.07 parts per billion for both PFOA and PFOS.

‘Both chemicals have been associated with a range of disorders including thyroid disorders, pregnancy complications and high cholesterol. The US EPA report also details a possible connection between PFOS and bladder, colon and prostate cancer.

‘The report leaves no doubt about the need for immediate response from state and federal governments to the health crisis facing local residents and affected airport workers.

‘It’s essential that the public are fully informed about the extent of this contamination. I am working to have the 2007 Stage 2 environmental site assessment for the airport released under an FOI application.

‘There is no justification for keeping this information secret,’ Senator Rhiannon said.


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