ON MONDAY December 2, the PFAS Sub-committee of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade (JSCFADT) will hear from the Department of Defence about the effectiveness of its National PFAS Investigation and Management Program.
The chair of the PFAS Sub-committee the John McVeigh MP said the Department of Defence was at the forefront of remediation work on per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) contamination in Australia.
The Department of Defence is now conducting PFAS investigation and remediation work at 28 Defence sites, with innovative water and soil treatments being delivered with the aid of expert environmental service providers.
“The question for the Sub-committee," Dr McVeigh said, “is whether these works are delivering the desired results, and being seen to do so?”
Evidence from the ANU PFAS Health study last week confirmed what Sub-committee members have seen in affected communities themselves - the levels of anxiety and uncertainty are high. This is despite the evidence that concentrations of PFAS in the environment, and hence people’s exposure, is coming down.
“With environmental regulations becoming more robust and locally based medical evidence being consolidated, reducing exposure to PFAS and its presence in water and soil is environmental best practice”, Dr McVeigh said.
“The challenge is to ensure that the Department of Defence is accountable to the public for the work being done, and that affected communities, in particular, are informed of progress, and problems, at each step of the way.”
The PFAS Sub-committee will report on the evidence taken by the end of the year and continue its ongoing scrutiny of government activity at hearings from the first sitting weeks of 2020.
Public hearing details:
Date: Monday 2 December 2019
Time: ~4:10pm to 5pm
Location: Committee Room IR4, Parliament House, Canberra.
The hearing will be audio streamed live at www.aph.gov.au/live.