Investigations at RAAF base expand

THE Department of Defence does not believe that cancer-causing toxins found within groundwater at the RAAF Edinburgh base is a community health concern, despite expanding its investigations at the site.

Investigations began last year and have centred on the contamination of groundwater with potentially harmful per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which were present in firefighting foams used at the base prior to 2004.

Last fortnight, the Department of Defence hosted a community walk-in information session at the John McVeity Centre in Smithfield Plains to explain its recent expansion of the investigation area.

Experts were present to detail the investigation process with local residents, and help explain what kind of works have already been undertaken at the site.

As part of the investigation, the department had previously tested around 1000 samples from the area and will now take a further 500 from the outer reaches of the initial investigation zone.

PFAS investigation and management program assistant secretary Luke McLeod said, while there is no consistent evidence of adverse human health outcomes, the local community needs to be made aware of the situation.

“Drinking contaminated water is the primary exposure pathway for humans and what we do know is there is nobody within the investigation area who are drinking the water,” he said.

“There have been studies which show some association between people with adverse health outcomes and exposure.

“But none of those (studies) identify a causal link that exposure causes an adverse health outcome.”

At present, studies have shown the only presence of PFAS has been found in low-lying groundwater at the site.

Current investigations are expected to be completed later this year.

Tom Staggard

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Born and raised in Adelaide's northern suburbs, Tom attended Tyndale Christian School in Salisbury East before studying journalism at the University of South Australia. Tom joined The Bunyip in June 2017 after previously working in the Adelaide Hills for The Courier newspaper in Mount Barker and the Weekender Herald in Crafers. As part of his role, Tom will cover the Adelaide Plains and Playford council regions. Away from work, he is a massive sports fan and loves all things football, cricket, basketball and soccer.

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