Toxins have been detected at more than 300 times the recommended safe levels in ground and surface water at numerous Defence sites across Australia.
Preliminary testing by the Department of Defence revealed that potentially hazardous levels of suspected carcinogens poly-fluoroalkyl and per-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) were detected at HMAS Stirling at Perth's Garden Islan, Townsville RAAF Base, in addition to other alarming cases.
There have been ongoing concerns over potential water contamination in the proximity of several Defence sites.
According to Fairfax journalist Michael Koziol, “on-site tests at the Townsville base found chemical levels in groundwater as high as 61.4 micrograms a litre, or 300 times the safe level”. In light of such evidence senior adviser at the National Toxics Network, Mariann Lloyd-Smith, said the levels detected at Townsville were "incredibly high" and called on Defence ‘to return to the sites "instantaneously" and conduct off-site water monitoring.’
The Department of Defence also urged caution, reminding concerned residents who live in close proximity to Defence sites that according to the Environmental Health Standing Committee, "there is currently no consistent evidence that exposure to PFAS causes adverse human health effects".
The department will begin an investigation of the 12 sites next year, and will supply "alternative sources of drinking water" to any nearby residents who source their water from a bore.
The potential harm and adverse human health effects such exposed toxins could have to local residents is further evidence of the need to Reduce our Chemical Footprint.