Labor promises ban on PFAS chemicals if its wins state election

The Caltex oil refinery at Kurnell at the time of its closure in 2014. Picture: John Veage
The Caltex oil refinery at Kurnell at the time of its closure in 2014. Picture: John Veage

Labor has promised to ban PFAS chemicals if its wins the state election in March, 2019.

But, the state government claims Labor is “scaremongering”.

A Fairfax Media investigation revealed in June that Botany Bay near Sydney Airport and the former Caltex refinery site at Kurnell were among sites being investigated for elevated levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl chemicals (PFAS).

The toxins have been linked to numerous cancer cases in Australia and overseas.

State Opposition spokeswoman on the environment Penny Sharpe committed Labor to banning the chemicals.

“The commitment will see NSW join South Australia and Queensland along with 171 other countries who have acted against PFAS,” she said.

“PFAS are used in firefighting foam and are responsible for the contamination at Williamtown [near Newcastle] impacting at least 750 homes.

“There are at least 25 sites in NSW affected by PFAS contamination including the Shoalhaven, Botany Bay; and Bathurst, Bankstown, Camden and Tamworth airport sites.”

Ms Sharpe said Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton had misled Parliament by saying it was up to the federal government to take action.

“If the Berejiklian government won’t act, Labor will,” she said.

“Minister Upton can no longer keep shirking responsibility on to her federal counterparts.”

Ms Upton said Labor was “scaremongering on PFAS chemicals”.

“Penny Sharpe has wrongly claimed PFAS is banned in both South Australia and in Queensland,” she said.

“Rather than a total ban, both states simply have plans to phase out the use of this class of chemicals in some circumstances.

“NSW began phasing out the use of PFAS chemicals more than a decade ago.

“NSW has also led the nation in working with affected communities.

“But, we need to do more, and that is why I have asked the acting NSW Chief Scientist to look at further regulation and tighter licensing until a nationwide ban by the Federal Government is implemented.”