Further testing due to Ohakea contamination

By Alecia Rousseau

Local councils have asked for further testing of properties around Ohakea airbase.
Local councils have asked for further testing of properties around Ohakea airbase.

Central government has reached an agreement with local authorities to further investigate the PFAS chemical contamination at Ohakea airbase.

Horizons Regional and Manawatu District councils met with representatives from the Ministry for the Environment, New Zealand Defence Force and Ministry of Primary Industries last Friday, to discuss a lack of "clear and consistent" information being provided to affected landowners.

The contamination of PFAS, a firefighting chemical no longer used, was announced in December and includes 23 neighbouring properties to Ohakea — five whose drinking water tested above normal guidelines.

Minister Iain Lees-Galloway attended the meeting on behalf of David Parker, and said he was pleased to see the agencies collaborate.

"That close interaction will mean the full spectrum of support can be provided to people of the area."

Manawatu District mayor Helen Worboys said she'd been visiting property owners who had expressed their own concerns.

"In addition to water use, residents have concerns about the future of their farms, and are asking for further testing of the soil. Those on untested neighbouring properties are also concerned."

She said she was confident all of these issues would be part of the investigation.
Horizons has also confirmed they will begin their own formal investigation, which could result in legal action.

A joint statement by the New Zealand Defence Force and Ministry for the Environment said their staff had also visited affected properties. A spokesperson said each site would be affected differently and they had to deal with these on an individual basis.

"People have different questions and concerns, again depending on their circumstances.

The advice provided is tailored to those individual circumstances, so may vary from person to person."

They were now working closely with regional councils to expand communication to members of the community who were not directly affected but may have concerns.

"People have raised a variety of potential issues with us and the Ministry of Health and Ministry for Primary Industries have been addressing those directly with them, including during visits to their homes. We have advised landowners and occupiers that if they have further questions they can contact the helplines."

The long-term impact of this contamination was still being assessed but would be a key consideration. Scope testing may also be widened however those details were still being finalised.

For further information:
Landowners and occupiers with further questions can contact Healthline on 0800 611 116 or, MPI on 0800 00 83 33 for animal health or food safety questions. For any other information call 0800 668 766. You can also find information on the Ministry of Health and MPI websites.

- Manawatu Guardian

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