The Department of Defence held local community information sessions in Darwin this week to discuss their investigation into sites identified as having chemicals – known as PFAS and previously used in fire-fighting foam – on and around RAAF Base Darwin, Darwin international Airport and to a lesser extent Robertson Barracks.
With very few people attending, the briefs are welcome but a lot more needs to be done to make sure residents and businesses of Darwin and Palmerston are properly engaged.
During the sessions, representatives stated that they have adopted a precautionary approach and are providing alternative sources of drinking water to eligible residents using effected bore water.
We know this is the case in Katherine, but Defence still needs to engage with people in Darwin where they have been using water and or food from Rapid and Ludmilla Creeks.
The Turnbull Government needs to improve its consulting with the community around PFAS sites.
Detailed environmental testing is about to begin around RAAF Base Darwin and Robertson Barracks. It is expected to take another 12 months and I urge the Federal Government to conduct regular, open and honest discussion with local groups and engage in a meaningful and targeted manner, especially with Indigenous groups where English is not their first language.
Details of the PFAS investigations are available here.