Mayors call for answers on toxin findings at Argenton and Singleton Heights

CALL FOR TRANSPARENCY: Lake Macquarie mayor Kay Fraser. Picture: Jonathan Carroll
CALL FOR TRANSPARENCY: Lake Macquarie mayor Kay Fraser. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

THE mayors of Lake Macquarie and Singleton have responded to the discovery of toxic chemicals in their local government areas by calling for transparency from the NSW government during further tests.

The Newcastle Herald revealed on Wednesday that the chemical PFAS, historically used in firefighting foam and implicated in the Williamtown RAAF Base contamination, has been found in soil and sediment samples taken from the Mines Rescue stations in Argenton and Singleton Heights. 

The state Environment Protection Authority said the initial tests indicate the risk to people is low, but Lake Macquarie mayor Kay Fraser has called for a “quick and transparent” investigation in Argenton.

“Members of our community who live, work or use areas near the Mines Rescue station will be justifiably concerned about this finding and I have sought a commitment that the next stages of this investigation will be undertaken swiftly and transparently,” Cr Fraser said.

“It is important that the extent of any possible contamination is determined as quickly as possible and council will liaise closely with the EPA and Coal Services to ensure the community is kept informed during this process.”

Cr Fraser said she had advocated strongly for more testing around the site, and stressed the need to confirm the presence of PFAS or give residents peace of mind.

“It is important that people are properly informed so they can have confidence in the process,” she said.

CONCERN: Singleton mayor Sue Moore. Picture: Anita Jones

CONCERN: Singleton mayor Sue Moore. Picture: Anita Jones

Singleton mayor Sue Moore said her council had asked the EPA to keep it informed and up-to-date throughout the next round of investigations at Singleton Heights.

“The news from NSW Mines Rescue and the EPA understandably raises concerns and questions for the people in our community,” Cr Moore said.

“At this stage, advice to council from NSW Mines Rescue and the EPA is that health risks to humans from potential PFAS soil contamination is deemed to be low because of the absence of groundwater supply to residential homes.”

PFAS in soil isn’t considered a risk, but its presence in groundwater could lead to the serious health warnings and fall in land values seen at Williamtown.

Testing at Argenton and Singleton Heights will continue during August and a report on the findings is due in late September.