PFAS protest group spokesman Lindsay Clout criticises Sunshine Coast Council over its handling of the controversial issue.
PFAS protest group spokesman Lindsay Clout criticises Sunshine Coast Council over its handling of the controversial issue.

Protest group attacks council's handling of PFAS

A FORMER cattle breeder who lives in the heart of the Williamtown PFAS red-zone in Newcastle, has lashed out at Sunshine Coast Council's handling of contamination at the airport here.

Lindsay Clout who heads the Coalition Against PFAS (CAP) has spent the past four years fighting for a greater government response to PFAS contamination in the environment.

The contaminated 25 square kilometre "red zone" around Williamtown Airport has seen property prices crash, financial institutions withdraw funding and despair for people left in limbo.

Mr Clout, who converted his 75-acre property to a garden nursery before the crisis impacted Newcastle, said Sunshine Coast Council had only itself to blame for the so-called 'misinformation' it has claimed muddied the water about its decision to pump PFAS-contaminated water out to sea.

"The Coalition Against PFAS (CAP) was contacted by concerned local residents weeks ago who alerted us to an August 28 media release from the council," Mr Clout said.

"That council release studiously avoided any reference to 'PFAS' other than once single mention in relation to a 'PFAS National Environment Plan'.

"Having been caught out by the community the council has responded to a meeting of over 300 concerned residents by now sending out another media release trying to compare what they're planning to the scale of the Williamtown PFAS contamination.

"Well we've heard some remarkable self-justifications from all levels of Government since we began this campaign but claiming your dabbling in just some very minor PFAS contamination is up there with the best.

"Just last month one arm of the Federal Government was fining a private company for releasing 'a small amount' of PFAS into Darwin Harbour but suddenly it's all okay for local government to do the same thing."

Mr Clout said the council neglected to tell the community that PFAS was known as the "forever chemical" for a reason.

He said the United States Congress would vote this month to have PFAS listed as 'hazardous substance' as a wave of inquiries were launched, and litigation started against the manufacturers.

"CAP is connected to similar groups throughout the US and in Europe," Mr Clout said.

"It has not heard of one instance where any level of Government has sought to pump PFAS offshore to get rid of the problem.

"The Sunshine Coast needs to ask if it wants to set the precedent."

Sunshine Coast Council has said the level of PFAS contamination in more than 100 million litres of water stored on the airport amounted to half a gram, or able to fit under a finger nail.

It said the amount at release was 200 times less than allowed by the Department of Environment and Science.