Labor promises ban on PFAS chemicals and co-ordinated response to contaminated areas

The Kurnell oil refinery transitioned to an oil terminal in 2014. Picture: Jane Dyson
The Kurnell oil refinery transitioned to an oil terminal in 2014. Picture: Jane Dyson

The Labor Party has confirmed it will ban PFAS chemicals in NSW and provide a co-ordinated response to contaminated areas if it wins the state election.

Botany Bay near Sydney Airport and the Caltex site at Kurnell were among areas being investigated for elevated levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl chemicals (PFAS), a 2018 Fairfax Media investigation revealed.

The chemicals, which are used in firefighting foam, have been linked to numerous cancer cases in Australia and overseas.

Deputy state opposition leader and spokeswoman on the environment Penny Sharpe announced on Thursday Labor's "policies to ensure better management of PFAS contaminated sites across the state".

Ms Sharpe confirmed a promise made in June, 2018, that a Labor government would ban PFASs in NSW.

Further, she said a parliamentary inquiry would be established to inform the creation of a response plan for areas of contamination.

A co-ordinator would oversee all state agencies involved with PFAS contaminated sites.

Ms Sharpe said a Labor government would also contribute $10 million towards a new drain management plan for work at a contamination site emanating from the RAAF base at Williamtown, near Newcsatle.

"Since the contamination crisis in Williamtown was publicly revealed in 2015, the NSW Liberal Government has failed to formulate or implement a consistent plan to manage the situation," she said.

Ms Sharpe said the federal government was ultimately responsible for addressing the impacts of PFAS contamination, but had been slow to act.

The state government has previously accused Labor of "scaremongering".

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