Joint statement - Minister for Defence & Chief Minister of the Northern Territory- Water Treatment Plant to be provided to Katherine Community to assist with management of PFAS

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Senator the Hon Marise Payne

Minister for Defence

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  • Henry Budd (Minister Payne’s office) 0429 531 143
  • Defence Media (02) 6127 1999

The Hon Michael Gunner MLA

Chief Minister of the Northern Territory

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9 August 2017

Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Marise Payne, and NT Chief Minister, the Hon Michael Gunner MLA, today announced that the Department of Defence will provide an interim water treatment plant to reduce the amount of per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the Katherine town water supply.

Defence has engaged international environmental company Emerging Compounds Treatment Technologies to provide a state-of-the-art water treatment plant that uses a synthetic substance to filter PFAS from water. This water treatment plant will be operational in the final quarter of 2017.

This water treatment plant, which is being constructed in the United States, will act as an interim measure that will assist in reducing PFAS concentrations in the bore water component of the Katherine town water supply. 

The Australian and NT Governments will continue to work closely together to determine the best long-term solutions to ensure that PFAS detections remain below the drinking water health-based guidance values set by Food Safety Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) into the future.

State and federal health authorities have confirmed that the Katherine town water supply is safe to drink and that there is minimal risk to human health posed by short-term exceedances of the tolerable daily intake for drinking water. 

Both Governments, however, recognise that community concern exists in the Katherine community about the low-level presence of PFAS in the Katherine water supply and are taking these practical steps to provide confidence and reassurance to the Katherine community that its water supply continues to remain safe to drink.

Defence’s detailed site investigation at RAAF Base Tindal, which will also include a Human Health Risk Assessment, is underway and will inform longer-term measures for managing PFAS. The identification of new technologies for effective monitoring and management of PFAS contamination is a key priority for Defence.

Defence continues to engage with industry experts, both nationally and internationally, to identify the best management options for PFAS at its sites throughout Australia.

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