Fluoride Action Network

Fiskville inquiry: Farmers face bans over possible contamination

Source: Herald Now | June 23rd, 2015 | By Alex White and Stephen Drill
Location: Australia
Industry type: Perfluorinated chemicals

THE Fiskville inquiry has recommended the government consider compensation for local farmers whose livestock has been contaminated and called for free PFOS tests for Victorian firefighters.

The damning interim report was tabled in the Victorian Parliament this morning after public hearings were held earlier this month.

It made three recommendations which included soil and water testing on the infamous site in Ballan and on surrounding properties.

The inquiry said local residents should be allowed to request the data from the tests.

It also urged the Government to consider whether nearby farmers will no longer be able to sell their livestock which has been contaminated with PFOS, a cancer causing chemical found in banned firefighting foams.

Emergency Services Minister Jane Garrett said that the concerns about the impact of PFOS contamination on the sale of livestock from farmers near Fiskville was an important consideration.

“These are very serious recommendations coming from a process that has raised enormous issues with the health and safety of the site and its surrounds,” she said.

Ms Garrett the State Government would take on all recommendations from the report.

“The Andrews Government welcomes this report and accepts all recommendations in principle,” she said.

“This inquiry is lifting the veil of secrecy on Fiskville. The recommendations will go a long way in getting to the full truth and providing people with access to testing and information, and hopefully peace of mind.”

The report was also scathing of the Country Fire Authority management.

“Health and safety practices at Fiskville were poor and there was minimal OH&S training until the 1990s,” the report said.

“There is significant criticism and mistrust about the role of CFA management, especially from the late 1980s to the present, and views expressed that the CFA was more concerned with protecting its own reputation.”

The report suggested that firefighters who have become sick should receive health checks and some compensation be considered.

United Firefighters Union secretary Peter Marshall said the interim report was encouraging, but said the second half of the inquiry would uncover more concerning details.

Mr Marshall said that Fiskville should remain closed, but accepted that a new CFA facility should be built.

“And despite the loyalty that many professional and volunteer firefighters have for Fiskville, it may be the cheapest and fastest solution to build a new training centre nearby,” he said.