Occupational health and safety: Country Fire Authority Fiskville facility

I wish to raise a matter for the attention of the Deputy Premier in his capacity as Minister for Police and Emergency Services. The action I seek is that he immediately release and act on the findings of an investigation that was conducted by the engineering firm Cardno Lane Piper into the safety of soils, water and air in and around the site of the Fiskville training facility. I understand that the firm began its investigations into the Fiskville site and its surrounds in July 2012 and that the Country Fire Authority (CFA) was provided with a report in November 2012.

I understand that the report contains some extremely concerning findings, in particular that there are seriously unsafe levels of perfluorooctane sulfonate and perfluorooctanoic acid in the soil and water at the site, in surrounding farmland and as far as 18 kilometres downstream in waterways that feed into the Geelong and Werribee water supplies. These chemicals are known carcinogens, and they have been found to have negative impacts on prenatal health and morbidity. Dangerous levels of these chemicals have also been linked to kidney and liver disease. It is our understanding that senior people within the CFA have seen the contents of the Cardno Lane Piper report and that at this stage they are not taking any action on its findings. Instead they are seeking further information and results. While this procrastination and secrecy go on, people continue to work and train at and live near the Fiskville facility.

It is worth noting that the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) had ceased using the Fiskville site during 2012 for its training purposes, and it was about to recommence hot fire training there in October 2012 when the United Firefighters Union (UFU) lodged a grievance over ongoing concerns about the safety of the site and its surrounds. In response to that grievance the MFB has agreed to not recommence using Fiskville for its training purposes. It is also worth noting that in correspondence with the UFU yesterday, WorkSafe indicated that it was unable to respond to this matter in accordance with its statutory time frame obligations in relation to a request for an investigation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 with the potential for a prosecution due to the breadth and complexity of this matter.

In the interests of the safety of those using the Fiskville site, the surrounding land users and the security of the water supply many kilometres away, I call on the Deputy Premier to immediately release any and all findings of the report and investigation and to satisfy both himself and Victorians that any and all appropriate preventive steps in regard to the usage of this site are taken.

Hansard, 2013