Contamination fears extend over Oakey township
THERE are fears the chemical groundwater contamination in Oakey could have a worse impact than previously thought.
Potentially deadly chemicals seeped into groundwater around the Oakey area over decades due to fire-fighting foam used at the Oakey Army Aviation Centre.
Two chemicals - perfluorooctane sulphonate and perfluorooctanoic acid - known as PFOS and PFOA contaminated the groundwater.
On Thursday the United States regulator Environmental Protection Agency drastically reduced what it considers the safe levels of exposure to PFOS to below 0.07 micrograms per litre.
That is a more than 400% reduction from the levels used in Australia of 0.3 micrograms per litre.
The EPA considers it to be hazardous to drink water with levels of chemicals above its guidelines.
If that safety level were applied to the township of Oakey, the groundwater of virtually the whole township would be considered unsafe.
Shine Lawyers has been investigating the matter on behalf of affected residents.
Partner Peter Shannon said he had a message for the Federal Government: "The residents of Oakey are being exposed to your hazardous chemicals, and you're doing nothing about it".
"Defence has absolutely no justification for delaying any further compensation for our Oakey clients for the contamination of their properties.
"The only excuse they have used is the supposed lack of scientific certainty of the levels of which the contaminants pose a danger to health.
"That argument is gone. This (EPA) report clearly removes any justification for delay.
"The EPA is widely regarded as conservative and yet it has set the level at the mark.
"It is more than 10 times lower than the previous levels it had itself used and 20 times lower than the current approach reflected in the attitude of the authorities in our dealings."
He called for swift action from the government.
"The information and awareness around this growing problem simply isn't wide enough.
"The fact that overseas agencies are undertaking the research into the damaging effects of these chemicals while we sit back and watch what unfolds is a national disgrace".
A Senate inquiry has been held into the contamination issue and its recommendations were released on May 4.
Listed among them were that Defence provide blood tests for residents on an annual basis and free mental health services.
Defence said at the time it would respond once it had carefully considered each of the report's recommendations.
The Department of Defence was contacted for comment regarding the EPA guidelines but had not responded as The Chronicle went to print.
More information can be found on the issue here.