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Toxins from Defence Department site infiltrate recycled water system in Adelaide’s north

CANCER-causing toxins have infiltrated two recycled water systems used to irrigate market gardens, businesses, parks and a primary school in Adelaide’s north, tests have confirmed.

The Environment Protection Authority and Salisbury Council are now appealing to the Defence Department to fast-track its inquiry into potential contamination at its Edinburgh RAAF base, which is suspected of being the source of the pollution.

They also want the department to widen its investigation’s scope to include surrounding houses and businesses.

As revealed in The Advertiser this month, the department is analysing samples from bores and open watercourses at the base to check if the harmful toxins perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) are present.

These chemicals, which were present in firefighting foam used at the base until 2004, do not break down in the environment and have been linked to cancer in people and animals.

The results are expected to be known by the end of July.

However, Salisbury Council’s own tests, initiated this month in response to the RAAF base investigation, have shown a “positive reading” for PFOS and PFOA at its Kaurna wetlands and Edinburgh Parks South water system.

Both are located near the defence base and supply water to 66 businesses and organisations, including produce growers, and irrigate 34 council sites, such as parks and ovals.

The council is now retesting to confirm the accuracy of the results.

“As you are aware we have already shut down these two (water) systems …. and will now reassess our response to determine if any further actions are required,” stated a secret internal council briefing, seen by The Advertiser.

Properties connected to the recycled water systems will receive water from other aquifers.

The council took new samples on Thursday.

“We will endeavour to push for the results as soon as possible but have been advised that there’s currently a high demand for these tests,” the briefing stated.

It is understood there are only two laboratories in Australia that can test for the PFOS and PFOA.

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