Erin Brokovich shocked by Australian decision on firefighting chemicals in drinking water

TAKEN ABACK: Environmental crusader Erin Brokovich was stunned to hear Australian limits for firefighting chemicals in drinking water are now 78 times higher in the United States. Picture: Sahlan Hayes

TAKEN ABACK: Environmental crusader Erin Brokovich was stunned to hear Australian limits for firefighting chemicals in drinking water are now 78 times higher in the United States. Picture: Sahlan Hayes

The environmental crusader who inspired an Academy Award-winning film has expressed disbelief at a decision by Australian regulators to raise the safe level of firefighting chemicals in drinking water to 78 times higher than in the United States. 

Erin Brokovich was in the Queensland town of Oakey recently as an ambassador for Shine Lawyers, as it grapples with the same contamination leaching from the Williamtown RAAF Base. 

The renowned straight-shooter was momentarily lost for words when told Australia had dramatically lifted its acceptable levels for perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a month after limits were lowered by the US EPA.

“That tells you something is wrong here," she said. "Maybe they [Australian regulators] should check with the peer-reviewed studies. 

"When the US EPA got those studies, they reduced their levels drastically. 

"It takes them a long time before they come out and doing something like that. They're not just doing that for shits and giggles. You've already got people out there with cancer." 

The Australian levels sparked further controversy this week when The Saturday Paper revealed three companies involved in their creation did not declare multi-million dollar contracts held with Defence. 

Adjunct Professor Andrew Bartholomaeus has reviewed the levels but his findings are yet to be released.  

Ms Brokovich said it was widely acknowledged in the US that PFOA caused health issues and authorities should be “running to get ahead” of the situation. 

“Australian PFOA is the same PFOA we have in the States. Australian people have health issues like we do in the States,” she said. 

There were strong parallels between the unfolding situation in Williamtown and contamination in the US town of Hinkley, where her David and Goliath battle against Pacific Gas and Electric began 23 years ago. 

"You are pooping in your own nest here. The situation can get out of control very fast.” 

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