Ongoing testing at the Craigieburn Victorian Emergency Management Training Centre has revealed elevated levels of toxic perfluoro chemical PFOS – the same chemical that was found at the controversially closed Fiskville CFA centre.
Regular testing in early October showed low levels of the substance were detected at an entry point on the site, however, concerns over samples obtained in subsequent testing has seen parts of the facility closed as a safety precaution.
A letter from Metropolitan Fire Brigade chief executive Jim Higgins to staff on November 1, supplied to The Courier, said additional sampling had “increased readings” of the toxic chemical.
“As a result of this further testing, MFB was last night notified that, out of a number of samples, a small number have produced an increased readings for PFOS and PFOA,” the letter read.
“These samples were taken in or around the trade waste treatment system attached to the petrochem prop. This system is used for treating foam solutions used during training or testing on the petrochem prop.
“The results from the trade waste treatment system showed a reading of 540 parts per trillion for PFOS and 20 parts per trillion for PFOA. The source of the PFOS and PFOA is not yet known.”
The letter said that the use of the petrochem prop for training purposes had also been suspended.
PFOS was also found at the Fiskville CFA, which was controversially closed after more than 500 tests at the site.
Moorabool Shire councillor Paul Tatchell said in the interest of fairness, significant investigations should be conducted into the Craigieburn site.
“If they want to be consistent, yes they would (conduct an investigation),” Cr Tatchell said.
“If they want to be fair dinkum they should release Fiskville figures by comparison (to Craigieburn) and actually explain the dangers of PFOS.
“I don't think we'll ever get the full truth (about Fiskville).”
The results for Fiskville showed that while the drinking water and showers were clear of contamination, high levels of toxic chemicals were found around the fire training area and a zone at the site where chemicals had not been previously detected.
Similarly, only low levels of PFOS have been recorded in the mains supply at Craigieburn. However, Mr Higgins’ letter said testing in the trade waste treatment system returned results as high as 540 parts per trillion for PFOS.
Initial testing on Craigieburn in early October showed the level returned the equivalent of only 40 parts per trillion for PFOS.
A letter from Mr Higgins to staff in early October said the US EPA standard for PFOS in drinking water is 70 parts per trillion
A statement from the MFB on Tuesday said the site is being reviewed.
“MFB is continuing to review the cause of elevated PFOS and PFOA levels at VEMTC Craigieburn,” the statement said.
“As a result, MFB conducted testing and seven samples were taken from across the facility, including the trade waste water system.
“Further tests of the recycled water system show continued declining levels of PFOS. As a precaution, MFB continues to use mains water for training purposes.
“As a precaution, foam training at VEMTC Craigeburn has been temporarily suspended, pending further review and the petro-chemical prop has been closed off until further notice. There was no foam training currently scheduled, so there will be no impact on training from this limited closure of part of the facility.
“Safety remains our number one priority and MFB has provided regular updates to our staff and those who use the facility.”
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