11 Apr 2018

Toxic foam: Council questions type of testing

2:57 pm on 11 April 2018

A central North Island regional council is asking questions about the type of testing being done to detect firefighting foam contamination.

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Photo: 123RF

That follows confirmation of an RNZ report that Defence has not been using a new, wide-ranging test for harmful foam chemicals contaminating water and soil around military bases.

The Environment Ministry has defended the use of the standard analysis that Defence is using.

The Ministry and Defence have made no comment on why this could not be used in conjunction with the new test, as some jursidictions, for instance, Queensland, now demand.

Horizons Regional Council chair Bruce Gordon told Morning Report his council was taking its lead from the Environment Ministry for the tests it would do at Palmerston North airport.

"Whatever testing they see is appropriate, is what we will expect to be done."

The banned foam was found at the airport last month.

The new test is not available in New Zealand but three labs in Australia do it.

"I have not lost faith in the [standard] testing," he told RNZ.

"But I have lost faith in Defence providing the information that we need."

Mr Gordon praised the Ministry for the way it had communicated with his council but not the Defence Force.

"The information coming out of Defence has been less than satisfactory. The more you read about this, the scarier it gets. And what we want is for people to have accurate information so they can make decisions about what they're going to do."

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