Richmond PFAS contamination: resident's chook eggs deemed unsafe to eat

EAST Richmond’s Joanna Pickford is calling on residents around the RAAF to get their soil tested after the Department of Defence found per- and poly-fluroalkyl substances (PFAS) in her soil and chicken’s eggs.

A Defence and AECOM investigation into PFAS contamination on and around the Richmond RAAF Base found a ten-square-kilometre plume of the chemical in groundwater in June.

CONTAMINATION: East Richmond's Joanna Pickford with her hen Goosie Loosie. PFAS contamination has been found in all three of her chickens' eggs, as well as the soil on her property. Picture: Sarah Falson

CONTAMINATION: East Richmond's Joanna Pickford with her hen Goosie Loosie. PFAS contamination has been found in all three of her chickens' eggs, as well as the soil on her property. Picture: Sarah Falson

The contamination came from the use of legacy firefighting foam. 

All major on-site drainage systems were found to contain levels of PFAS above the reporting limit for drinking and detections were also found in tributaries to Rickabys Creek and Bakers Lagoon.

Defence hosted a session for the community in June to explain the findings, and offered soil testing for homes within the investigation zone.

Ms Pickford said she had since been shown a map of the testing undertaken by the base, which indicated very few residents had taken-up Defence’s offer to test their soil for the chemical.

“My soil and chicken eggs contain PFAS the chemical used in the firefighting foam. I can no longer eat my eggs. I had over 70 eggs to throw away in the last six weeks,” Ms Pickford told the Gazette.

Ms Pickford has been letterbox-dropping around the RAAF base testing area, encouraging her neighbours to get their soil tested.

She said a company employed by Defence to test soil samples visited her home in April and took both soil and eggs laid by her three chickens to test for the chemical.

She said she encouraged them to test her mandarins for PFAS and the fruit was deemed safe to eat.

“As PFAS has possible links to cancer and other health issues I think it is very important that all residents are aware of the issues and recommend you complete a form and ask for your soil to be tested,” Ms Pickford said.

“If you have chickens, grow your own fruit and vegetables or use bore water, it is doubly important you have the soil tested.”

She said she was concerned that “little information” appears to be available to residents about the investigation, and that “our health and the value of our properties may be at risk”.

“There will be a public meeting for the community on November the 7th at 4pm place to be announced so look out for the invitation in your letterbox,” she said. 

“You can call the RAAF Base hotline on 1800 789 219 and the EPA on 131 555.”

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