A Senate Inquiry into PFOS/PFOA contamination at the Williamtown RAAF base has supported the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) in demanding voluntary blood tests be made available to all past and present workers at the Williamstown RAAF.
The recommendation comes after hundreds of workers and local residents raised the alarm about the potential health impacts of the contamination.
Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), the chemicals that contaminate the Williamtown base, were used in a number of priducts including firefighting equipment. They can be ingested through eating and drinking contaminated substances, and a number of medical studies have suggested a potential for adverse health effects in humans.
Workers at the Williamtown base, including Defence staff and contractors, have previously expressed serious concerns over the contamination. Several have demanded blood tests and have not received them.
“These workers have a right to know what is in their bodies and the Defence department has a responsibility to inform them,” said Tim Ayres, NSW Secretary of the AMWU. “This is a matter of workplace safety.”
“Blood testing is the consistent response to PFOS/PFOA contaminations globally. The Defence Department needs to stop downplaying the seriousness of this contamination and start rebuilding the confidence of the affected communities,” Mr Ayres said.
“We are happy to work co-operatively with the department to offer blood tests to as many current and former staff as possible,” he said.
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