News & Media

Fiskville operations suspended as precaution

By: Michael Wootten

  9.23 PM 2 March, 2015

Views: 3655

All operations at CFA's Fiskville training facility have been suspended as a precaution until further notice after chemical residues were detected in large tanks used to store mains water for firefighter training, and two hydrants.

The only prudent course of action is to suspend all operations until further testing is completed and the results are delivered. This process could take up to 2 weeks.

We understand that our members, particularly those who are working at the site, may be concerned by these precautionary measures. We have informed those staff members and we will support them through this process.

The residues contain PFOS, a type of perfluoro chemical that was found in firefighting foams used until 2007 . It is also found in everyday products such as make-up, shaving cream and paper packaging.

It's important to note that the preliminary advice from one of Australia's pre-eminent toxicologists is that any risk to the health of people at Fiskville is likely to be very low.
The toxicologist will prepare a more comprehensive assessment of the likely health risk over coming days.

The testing of the dams and lakes at Fiskville had recently been expanded to large tanks used to store mains water for firefighter training.

Since 2012, mains water has been used on the Practical Area for Drills (PAD) which has been stored in two large tanks. Recent tests of the tanks show the presence of these PFOS residues.

The presence of PFOS in four dams previously used to store water for firefighter training and in Lake Fiskville was identified by Professor Rob Joy in his report following an investigation of the site in 2011-12.

Those dams are no longer in use and major remediation works were completed at the site in July 2014 to minimise the risk of off-site flows from these water bodies. The dam water and sediment will be the subject of a planned remediation in the near future.

The advice of a toxicologist on the impacts of PFOS on humans was:

  • People can be exposed to PFOS through eating food and drinking water, and through the use of consumer products.
  • PFOS is widely used in the human environment, and most people have low levels of PFOS in their blood. PFOS can remain in the body for some time.
  • PFOS enters the blood and remains for some time. At elevated concentrations it may change blood cholesterol and blood lipids, which are indicators of risk for cardiovascular disease.
  • There are also many lifestyle factors that can affect a person's blood cholesterol and lipid levels.

For those who are concerned CFA has a number of support services available, including the local Peer Support program, the Member Assistance Program on 1300 795 711, or Chaplaincy Program on 1800 337 068.

Further testing of all water, including drinking water, will be conducted at Fiskville over coming days and I will update you as soon as we are provided with further information.

Michael, CFA CEO

Last Updated: 10 December 2015