Katherine’s PFAS timeline: Update

HOW IT LOOKS: A previous Defence Department update at Knotts Crossing.
HOW IT LOOKS: A previous Defence Department update at Knotts Crossing.

With a public meeting held in Katherine by the Defence Department on PFAS contamination soon, to be livestreamed on Facebook by the Katherine Times, we have updated the town's grim timeline.

The meeting is expected to begin at 5.15pm.

Katherine timeline.

1988 – PFAS laden fire fighting foams used in training at Tindal RAAF Base.

2004 – Tindal phases out use of the foam because of concerns about its safety to the environment and to health.

2012 - Defence department "desktop analysis" finds PFAS contamination an issue at military bases around Australia, Tindal likely named.

November, 2016 – Defence report finds foams have leached off Tindal and into the water aquifer.

November, 2016 – Preliminary NT Government report reveals PFAS contamination in town drinking water.

November, 2016 – Public meetings in Katherine organised by Defence to update residents.

December, 2016 – More than 40 properties around Tindal being supplied with drinking water by Defence.

February, 2017 – Defence launched year-long study into extent of contamination in Katherine region from Tindal air base.

April, 2017 – NT Government increases testing of Katherine drinking water. Testing consistently shows two production bores used to supply water treatment plant are well above health limits.

April, 2017 – The Federal Government dramatically reduces the health limits for PFAS chemicals in line with US standards from 0.5 micrograms per litre, to 0.07.

April, 2017 – Public meetings in Katherine for Defence to update residents.

May, 2017 – Katherine told no blood testing would be offered until the chemical contamination study is complete.

June, 2017 – Public meetings in Katherine for Defence to update residents. 

July 2017 – Four tests show PFAS levels have “spiked” above health limits for safe drinking water.

August, 2017 – Defence commission delivery of a pilot water treatment plant from the US costing $4 million to remove PFAS from one megalitre of Katherine’s bore water.

August, 2017 – Water restrictions begin in Katherine to reduce water use from PFAS fears.

September, 2017 – New defence water treatment plant jets into Darwin airport.

October, 2017 – Katherine’s public swimming pool returns a PFAS result above health limits.

October, 2017 – Defence holds one-on-one sessions to update residents.

October, 2017 - Defence reveals one Katherine resident has made a claim for compensation from the department.

October, 2017 - Senate inquiry told it was likely Defence knew Tindal has PFAS contamination issues from a "desktop analysis" in 2012.

October, 2017 – Defence, media and public officials tour new treatment plant.

November, 2017 – NT Government promises to review Katherine water restrictions.

November, 2017 - Late rains produce turbid river but new plant successfully treatment one megalitre of contaminated bore water per day. PFAS results "undetectable".

December, 2017 - NT Govt backflips on advice that Katherine could have a new water treatment plant by May 2018 –  "more like years away" it now says.

December, 2017 - Federal Government announces blood testing, counselling and more investigations into Katherine contamination, same schedule as Oakey and Williamtown.

December, 2017 - Defence holds information update in Katherine.