An investigation into the chemical contamination of a popular Mackay fishing spot is ramping up, but frustration is growing among local fishers who want answers.
Anglers have abandoned Shellgrit Creek near the Mackay Airport, after PFAS chemicals were found in 2019.
Mackay Recreational Fishers Alliance president John Bennett said locals were frustrated at how long investigations had dragged out.
“What I’m hearing and seeing is anglers have come to terms with it and some are fishing in other areas,” Mr Bennett said.
“Others are waiting for the results of the report or the findings to come out to see what the future holds.”
Origin to be investigated
An independent auditor has now been appointed to investigate just how PFAS chemicals made their way into the creek.
The chemical was historically used in firefighting foam, a link that an Airservices Australia spokesperson said investigators would look into.
“Airservices has recently engaged a contractor to undertake the detailed site investigation into Airservices’ historic use of aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) in aviation rescue firefighting at Mackay Airport,” the spokesperson said.
Toxic firefighting foam, PFAS, has been detected in water and fish in Shellgrit Creek, next to Mackay Airport.
The test results showed elevated levels of the chemical and consequently, possible health risks for people who eat the fish over a long period of time. There is no health risk for people who have infrequently eaten fish from this creek.
Based on the Airservices Australia PFAS testing results, Queensland Health advises that fish caught in Shellgrit Creek next to the Mackay Airport should not be eaten.
The testing also showed that groundwater and surface water inside the airport had PFAS levels above national recreational use guideline values at some locations, while the PFAS levels in surface water at Shellgrit Creek are below the guidelines.
No drinking water is sourced from these waterways and Mackay town water remains safe. The testing is part of an investigation by Airservices Australia and they will carry out further investigations near the airport to verify the extent of contamination and any potential human health or ecological risks from its operations.