COUNCIL claims it has been left with a Commonwealth contamination legacy costing the community hundreds of thousands of dollars, but the issue has fallen on the federal government’s deaf ears.
The federal parliament recently launched a inquiry into the Commonwealth government’s management of PFAS contamination in and around defence bases.
While the spotlight has shone fiercely on well-documented issues in Williamtown, near Newcastle, Tamworth Regional Council’s acting director of planning, Ross Briggs, said the plight of local government’s has been overlooked in the inquiry.
- Parliamentary inquiry into PFAS contamination calls for submissions
- Compensation calls: council still seeking funding for PFAS
- Council is applying further pressure to the federal government as it fights to avoid bearing more costs from contamination at the airport
- Low levels of PFAS found in Peel River fish
“[It’s] only looking at defence sites, it, for some reason, is not covering sites such as Tamworth airport and dozens of other airports around that were under the control of Commonwealth services,” Mr Briggs said.
“Tamworth airport was operated by Commonwealth air services for 32 years.”
He said council, at no stage, was involved in the firefighting drills which it claims led to the current PFAS contamination at the airport, which only became known to council in the last two years.
“Basically, they’ve said, you’re the landowner, you deal with it,” he said.
“Our request for funding and assistance has fallen on deaf ears.”
Mr Briggs said council had spent more than $120,000 merely carrying out tests on the Tamworth site.
“Our site is not at the level of a Williamtown, it is very, very minor,” he said.
“We’re left with the legacy from the Commonwealth actions.”
He said reimbursement for costs incurred to-date would be a start.
“The material is still in the soil at some stage it’s going to have be cleaned-up,” he said.
“Whether that’s removal for remediation or onsite remediation, someone’s going to have to foot that bill.
“At this stage we’ve done testing on what’s there and we’d like someone to pay for that, but we’d also like some help fixing the problem so it doesn’t become an ongoing legacy issue for Tamworth.”
The parliament inquiry is being chaired by Queensland Liberal MP Andrew Laming.
A spokesperson for Mr Laming said the interested individuals can makes submissions to the inquiry up until July 6.
While the inquiry is currently focused on defence sites, other issues might be considered.
“Ultimately, it is up to the Committee to decide how it will conduct its inquiry and what issues it will consider,” a spokesperson for Mr Laming said.
“Interested individuals and organisations in Tamworth are welcome to make a submission addressing the terms of reference for the Committee to consider.”
The terms of reference set out for the committee to investigate are available from the inquiry website.