Representatives from United Firefighters Union branches across Australia have for the first time gathered in Canberra to meet with subject matter experts and to call for a national approach to managing PFAS contamination.
ACT UFU Secretary Greg McConville said the meeting was urgently required to deal with an emerging national PFAS crisis the Federal Government had failed to satisfactorily manage.
“Today, UFU Branch Secretaries from around Australia meet in Canberra for the first time to hear from subject matter experts and to call for a national approach to PFAS contamination.”
“The fact is, since the early 1980’s generations of firefighters and communities around firefighting facilities and airports have unwittingly been exposed to PFAS contamination, and the Federal Government has barely done a thing about it.”
“We have no compulsory PFAS blood testing or health monitoring of firefighters, no audit of PFAS contaminated locations and no remediation plans for those sites.”
“It is likely PFAS is undermining the health of firefighters right now and no monitoring or health support plans are being put place.”
More reading: Katherine PFAS timeline.
“Communities right across Australia, near firefighting training facilities or airports may be affected by PFAS contamination and don’t even know it.”
“The Federal Government needs to stop making excuses and to step up to protect the health of the Australian people and the firefighters who protect them.”
UFU Branch Secretaries heard from several subject matter experts including Macquarie University Professor of Environmental Sciences Mark Taylor and Nigel Holmes, QLD Government Principal Advisor, Incident Management.
The conference will also be addressed by Robyn Wood, the wife of Ken Wood, a firefighter who died of cancer last year. She was awarded a $725,000 compensation payment by Comcare for Ken’s permanent impairment and death, understood to be the first payout under Commonwealth Presumptive legislation for firefighter cancers.
“We urgently call on the Federal Government to adopt a national approach to PFAS contamination that protects the health of firefighters and the communities they serve” Mr McConville said.
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