The Australian Government’s PFAS Taskforce today announced that the Australian Government is continuing to support local communities affected by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination with a new $73.1 million package of measures.
The Australian Government will provide $55.2 million over five years from 2018-19 for a drinking water program.
The program, which has commenced, is for property owners in communities surrounding Army Aviation Centre Oakey and RAAF Bases Williamtown, Tindal and Pearce, who use bores as their primary source of drinking water, and where PFAS is present at levels above the drinking water guidance value.
The Australian Government will also provide an additional $17.9 million over five years from 2017-18 to the Department of the Environment and Energy. This funding is part of the ongoing commitment to respond to PFAS contamination issues, protect the environment and minimise human exposure.
Part of this funding will support the continued operation of the PFAS Taskforce within the Department of the Environment and Energy. This is consistent with the role Australia’s environment ministers are playing in overseeing the implementation of the Intergovernmental Agreement on a Framework for Responding to PFAS Contamination.
This new funding builds on the Government’s extensive investments of over $100 million, in research into new technologies for PFAS removal and disposal; research into potential health effects; counselling support and voluntary blood testing for affected communities; and ongoing investigation and remediation activities.
The Panel’s report supports the enHealth advice that there is no consistent evidence that exposure to PFAS causes adverse human health effects, and identifies priority areas for future Australian Government investment in PFAS health research.
The Expert Health Panel’s findings support the approach taken to date by the Australian Government in responding to PFAS contamination, which includes removing exposure pathways, removing sources of contamination and remediating contamination where possible.
Factors like the outcomes of site investigations, human health and ecological risk assessments, and the benefits of having a nationally consistent approach, inform decisions on the kinds of Government support provided to affected communities, on a site-by-site basis.
The Australian Government has considered all the available information relating to PFAS contamination, including site investigation results, community views, expert advice, and scientific data, and is responding to PFAS in a way that is consistent with the available evidence.
Based on the knowledge and evidence available at this time, the Australian Government is not considering a land purchase program as a result of PFAS contamination.
Relevant departments will continue current PFAS investigation, management and remediation programs, and will review management practices and adjust them as necessary to respond to any new evidence as it arises.
The Australian Government will continue to work with affected communities, as well as local members and senators, on this important issue.