US environmental advocate Erin Brockovich has thrown her weight behind the fight against the contamination of groundwater throughout Australia by toxic PFAS chemicals.
Perfluoroalkyls and polyfluoroalkyls, also known as PFAS, are a class of harmful chemicals found in products that reduce heat, stains, grease and water.
Ms Brockovich was on 6PR with Jane Marwick and Bullsbrook resident Colin Butland who is being supplied bottled water because his tap water is too dangerous to drink or bathe in.
Shine Lawyers are using Ms Brokovich as its ambassador to raise awareness about PFAS contamination in Australia.
On radio, Ms Brockovich said Shine Lawyers had uncovered it was a growing issue around Australia and found in some places you could not eat meat from livestock, fresh produce or drink water.
“The farmers are being told not to eat it, yet we are selling it, in Oakey people are being told not to use their bore water,” she said.
Last year, 18 residential properties in Vasse were found to have PFAS contamination which leached from an old unlined landfill at the Busselton Waste Facility.
Residents were told it was no longer safe to use their bore water or eat fresh produce which was grown on the properties.
“It is extremely disturbing to me that this is happening throughout the entire country, the conversation is starting to happen here in Australia and it needs to be had,” she said
“There is the potential for an emerging national crisis, this is a dangerous chemical. Governments and companies have known or been warned for many years to keep an eye out for this.
“Once it is in the environment it is extraordinarily difficult to remove. Once you have ingested it, it is impossible to reduce it from the body’s burden it can take 20 to 40 years before that happens.”
Ms Brokovich said science in the US had found the chemical caused testicular cancer, kidney cancer, thyroid cancer, high cholesterol and reproductive issues.
She said the government was sending out a conflicting statement which made no sense.
“In WA, they tell you it cannot hurt you but they are providing [residents] bottled water, if that is the case then why are you doing it, there is a very conflicting statement going on.
“Whether out of fear or greed I am not sure where they are operating from, they are not being forthwith with the very people who are being exposed to this on a daily basis and have been for a long time.
“They need to get their statement straight and if this cannot harm you then there is no explanation why you are sending out another statement do not drink it, do not eat it, do not be exposed to it.
“Shine has filed two class actions I would anticipate more are coming.”
Bullsbrook resident Colin Butland said he was frustrated the different levels of government were blaming each other for the problem because it was outside their jurisdiction.
“It is a real mess we are not getting any consistent responses to this.”