UPDATE: MAYOR Jack Dempsey called an urgent media conference this afternoon to help spread the word about a contaminated water supply in Bundaberg.

Cr Dempsey said there was no need to panic but, Svensson Height residents should be aware a chemical Per-and Poly-fluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) entered the water supply.

Residents are being advised to run their household taps for a few minutes to help flush out any contaminates.

"Yesterday afternoon we had a confirmed analysis of what is called PFAS in our bore water in the Sveneson Heights area," he said.

"Due to the positive analysis we then obviously closed down that bore."

In the last 24 hours the council had been in contact with other agencies, including environment, to find out how the chemical entered the water way.

He said the supply area would no longer be in use.

"There will be no interruptions to water supply," Cr Dempsey said.

"The mains have been flushed out."

Cr Dempsey said the chemical PFAS had a history right across all of Australia.

With the State releasing information one month ago about the increasing numbers of contaminated sites identified across Australia.

The operation policy said the historic and current use of firefighting foams containing fluorinated organic chemicals, was recognised as a significant threat to environmental values.

"Today we do not want to pre-empt what investigation results will take place," Cr Dempsey said.

"We will let a complete and thorough investigation take place.

"These types of chemicals while predominated from fire fighting resources they are also from other magnate chemicals as well.

"We just want to confirm to the community once it was identified, action was taken immediately.

"Anyone with concerns should contact the State government immediately on 13 HEALTH.

Cr Dempsey said hearing the information was a shock to himself and the council.

"We wanted to make sure we took action straight away.

"It is only in this bore area and other tests have already been conducted right across the network.

"The waster in place meets all State government guide lines."

The council is confident the flushing of the system had worked to remove the chemical.

Cr Dempsey was not able to address the health issues and advised any one with concerns to go to the proper authorities.

There will be a letter box drop early next week to advise residents in the area.

Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said she wanted to reassure residents that there was "no immediate" health risk."

"The risk of any consequences for the health of people in the community is low," Dr Young said.

"There is no consistent evidence that PFAS causes any specific illnesses in humans."

The chemicals come from the same group as the toxic firefighting foam that contaminated a Brisbane Airport Qantas hanger in April 2017, leading to warnings from authorities not to consume seafood caught in the area.

AFFECTED STREETS: 

  • Takalvan St between Enterprise St and Walker St (west boundary)
  • Walker St between Taklavan St and Branyan St (north boundary)
  • Branyan St between Walker St and Saltwater Creek
  • Enterprise St between Takalvan St and Industrial St
  • Industrial St
  • Industrial Avenue
  • Baxter St
  • Welcome St
  • Diggers St
  • Osborn Rd
  • Killer St
  • Harris St
  • Hull Court
  • Nielsen St
  • Dunkirk St
  • Thorburn St
  • Barnes St
  • Theodore St
  • Leeson St
  • Joyce St
  • Victory St
  • Peace St
  • Kedge St
  • Dr Mays Rd
  • Cattermull St
  • Eriksen St
  • Bates St
  • Steffensen St
  • Luther St
  • Dexter St
  • Bust St
  • Coomber St
  • Wainwright St
  • McMurtrie St
  • Mckewen St
  • Roselt St
  • Svensson St
  • Williams Rd
  • Alamein St
  • Tarakan St
  • Churchill St
  • Montgomery St
  • Tobruk St
  • Page St
  • Parry St
  • Glasgow St
  • Parsloe St
  • Parsons
  • Londy St
  • Drinkall St
  • Child St
  • Spence St
  • Richards St
  • Pickett St
  • Moran St
  • Gaffel St
  • Watkins St
  • Ross St
  • Wardrop Ct
  • Orpin Cl

AFFECTED FACILITIES: 

  • Gracehaven Aged Care Service 
  • Norville State School 

EXPERT WEIGHS IN ON PFAS:

University of Queensland expert Barry Noller said PFAS was a compound of concern but unless there were very large quantities, it was not very toxic. 

He said it was a matter of accessing the causes of PFAS in an environment and the likelihood of exposure. 

There are questions around PFAS and cancer in trials carried out on rats, but unless humans are exposed to large amounts, it should not pose a major health risk. 

According to the State Government, most people have PFAS in their blood because of exposure to the chemical in day-to-day life. 

Airfields and aerodromes are of particular concern because of its use.

Dr Noller said PFAS was a compound chemical that took a long time to break down in the body. 

He said if people were concerned they should see a doctor. 

"The first thing to do is to see a medical doctor and get a medical opinion," he said. 

"The second port of call is the Queensland Department of Health." 

State accused of putting politics before people

LNP Leader Deb Frecklington said she was appalled to learn that residents of Bundaberg weren't informed about contamination to local water supplies for over a week.

"It's disgusting that Annastacia Palaszczuk put politics before the safety of Queenslanders," Ms Frecklington said.

"Her government has waited more than a week before telling Bundaberg locals that one of their reservoirs has PFAS twice the national standards.

"You'd think the Premier may have wanted to mention that when she was in Bundaberg last week for the Royal visit.

"Whether it's hiding emails from union bosses, sitting on critical reports into the death of children known to authorities or failing to mention threats to a town's water supply - Labor always puts themselves first and Queenslanders last."

EARLIER: The Svensson Heights area of Bundaberg has had the source of its water supply changed following test results which showed a level of PFAS higher than the current national guideline value.

>> QUEENSLAND HEALTH PFAS FACT SHEET 

Per-and Poly-fluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) are a group of man-made chemicals that have been widely used since the 1950s in household and industrial products that resist heat, oil, stains, grease and water.

Mayor Jack Dempsey addresses media at council chambers.
Mayor Jack Dempsey addresses media at council chambers.

Council is working closely with public health experts from Queensland Health who advise there is no consistent evidence that PFAS cause any specific illnesses in humans.

On 12 April 2018, Bundaberg Regional Council received confirmation that water supplied to customers from the Dr Mays Road bore exceeded the guidance value.

A map of the affected area: 

A map of the affected area.
A map of the affected area.

The bore was immediately removed from the water supply system and properties are now being supplied from other sources.

The bore will not be reinstated.

The area previously supplied from the bore is bordered by Takalvan Street to the west, Branyan Street to the east, Dr Mays Road to the south and Walker Street to the north (see map).

Dr Mays Road Water Treatment Plant, Dr Mays Rd, Bundaberg.
Dr Mays Road Water Treatment Plant, Dr Mays Rd, Bundaberg. Mike Knott

PFAS were previously used in products including non-stick cookware, food packaging and fabric stain-protection applications.

Since 1970, firefighting foams containing PFAS were used extensively in Australia and elsewhere due to their effectiveness in fighting liquid fuel fires. They have not been used in Queensland since 2003.

The Department of Environment and Science is investigating the original source of the PFAS.

Anyone with health concerns should contact their health care provider or call 13HEALTH (13 43 25 84).

More information about PFAS is available online at https://www.qld.gov.au/environment/pollution/management/investigation-pfas



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