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Firefighting foam contamination issues

Focus on Devonport

Published: 2 March 2018

This week Auckland Council has learned that testing at the NZ Defence Force naval base sites at Devonport has returned positive contamination results for the historic use of a specialist firefighting foam.

The council has not been involved in this testing but has registered its interest in being kept informed on all updates by the government departments working on the issue.

Auckland Council Chief Operating Officer Dean Kimpton has been briefed by the Ministry for the Environment and says some of the council’s technical staff have had an initial briefing from Defence Force officials.

“Of particular interest to the council is the impact that the historic use of this chemical has had on the marine area adjacent to the naval base and, therefore, people, animals and marine life in this area.

“The Ministry for the Environment advises that initial sampling shows that there are low levels of contamination in the Ngataringa Bay area are and that these are likely to be below international standards.

“However, we remain extremely interested in further testing that the Defence Force is carrying out to confirm these preliminary results and the extent of the marine area impacted.

“We are also keen to understand the wider impact of any groundwater contamination under the naval site and will pursue this with the Defence Force as a priority,” he says.

More information about the investigation into Auckland sites, including advice from the Ministry of Health, is available on the Ministry for the Environment’s website.

The Defence Force has advised that investigations are still underway at its Whenuapai base and that its former site at Hobsonville has been cleared of contamination following remediation. 

MPI says that there is no evidence or suggestion that there is a current food safety issue. MPI food safety experts will review any findings. Ministry of Health advice continues to be that there is no acute health risk.

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