11 October 2017
Low-level toxic contamination reaching Kirra Beach from Coolangatta Creek on the southern Gold Coast will prompt signage urging people not to swim in the area.
By Elise Kinsella
<p>Updated October 11, 2017 15:51:40</p><p></p><p> </p><p>PHOTO: Coolangatta Creek outlet on Kirra Beach, Gold Coast. (Google Maps)</p><p>RELATED STORY: Defence admits three-year delay in warning of toxic foam danger</p><p>MAP: Coolangatta 4225</p><p>Low-level toxic contamination reaching Kirra Beach from Coolangatta Creek on the southern Gold Coast will prompt signage urging people not to swim in the area.</p><p></p><p>The Gold Coast City Council plans to place the signs at the creek outlet on North Kirra beach after the toxic chemical PFAS was detected.</p><p></p><p>Councillor Gail O'Neill said initial testing at Coolangatta Creek early last year revealed the contaminant in "very low levels", which was later confirmed by Queensland Health.</p><p></p><p>"We have done extra sampling around the creek and [there are] still low levels but we feel, the catchment management guys feel, it is necessary to put up a sign at the outlet where the creek does flow onto the beach there, recommending no swimming or fishing where the outlet is," she said.</p><p></p><p>Cr O'Neill said the sign would not explain why people should avoid swimming or fishing in that area.</p><p></p><p> </p><p>PHOTO: Coolangatta Creek runs through Gold Coast Airport, which is less than a kilometre from the beachfront. (www.goldcoastairport.com)</p><p>But she said most people swam in the ocean — where swimming would still be allowed — rather than in the creek outlet.</p><p></p><p>"They may have waded through it once or twice, but I mean I live in the area and I can tell you I haven't seen anybody actually swimming in the outlet."</p><p></p><p>This week, the ABC's Four Corners program outlined serious concerns about PFAS contamination around 18 Australian Defence Force bases across the country, with a Defence official admitting they should have issued warnings three years earlier about toxic firefighting foam pollution.</p><p></p><p>The Coolangatta Creek catchment runs through the Gold Coast Airport precinct and includes the nearby suburbs of Tugun, Bilinga, Coolangatta and Kirra.</p><p></p><p>Last year, it was revealed the Federal Government's aviation safety body Air Services had used a firefighting foam containing PFAS at the airport.</p><p></p><p>Air Services was warned of the chemical's possible health and environmental risks in 2008, but continued to use the toxic foam until 2010.</p><p></p><p>External Link: Coolangatta Creek runs under Gold Coast Airport to Kirra Beach.</p><p>Friends of Currumbin secretary Gloria Baker said she was worried PFAS was reaching the beach.</p><p></p><p>"It shows the pathways from the contamination at the Gold Coast Airport has not been closed, so it is continuing to spread from the airport site into the groundwater," she said.</p><p></p><p>Water testing also underway nearby at Bilinga</p><p></p><p>The ABC can also reveal the Queensland Government has been sampling groundwater in a residential area east of the airport.</p><p></p><p>In a written statement, the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP) confirmed it had been testing water in the vicinity of Gold Four Drive at Bilinga, opposite the airport.</p><p></p><p>"This was done in response to information provided by a member of the community indicating that PFAS may be present in groundwater at that location," an EHP spokesperson said in the statement.</p><p></p><p>"EHP confirmed with Air Services Australia that the location reported is beyond the area covered by its current groundwater investigation."</p><p></p><p>Ms Baker said she arranged independent testing in that area, which also detected low levels of PFAS.</p><p></p><p>She said she was concerned about nearby residents who used bore water.</p><p></p><p>"There are people there who use the bore water because it is free and it is clear and it is clean, they use it top up their swimming pools, to water their vegie gardens and some people drink from the hose," she said.</p><p>"It comes out of a hose and they drink from it because it looks good and it tastes good, so there is a concern there."</p><p></p><p>The EHP spokesperson said it could take several weeks for its test results to be returned, at which time they would decide if further action was needed.</p><p></p><p>Topics: land-pollution, federal---state-issues, local-government, industrial-fires, water-management, water-pollution, coolangatta-4225</p><p></p><p>First posted October 11, 2017 13:24:31</p>
Keep reading... Show less