Les Rayner, fishing the river near the harbour, would be very concerned if PFAS was found in fish and would look to go fishing elsewhere.
Les Rayner, fishing the river near the harbour, would be very concerned if PFAS was found in fish and would look to go fishing elsewhere. Brian Cassidy

Fishos face anxious wait for PFAS testing

BUNDABERG fishers are anxiously waiting to find out if it's safe to eat the seafood they catch out of the Burnett River.

Bundy grandfather Les Rayner often sinks a line at the Bundaberg Port and has concerns for his loved ones after the news broke about PFAS levels in fish in Gladstone.

The fish tested positive for traces of PFAS at four Gladstone sites after tests were carried out by Gladstone Ports Corporation.

Sampling indicated some of the sites had elevated levels of PFAS when compared to national guidelines, prompting GPC to initiate a broader scope of sampling.

It involved undertaking a pilot seafood sampling program at Ship Creek, within the Port Central precinct.

The public was advised to avoid consuming fish from Ship Creek.

Mr Rayner said he fished about two to three times a week and ate the fish he caught at least once a week, so the sooner the testing was done the better.

"I'll definitely stop fishing if there is PFAS in the fish,” Mr Rayner said.

"I take my wife and grandkids fishing, we all love it and don't want to stop.

"So, the sooner they wave the white flag, the better.”

On the same wavelength is keen fisherman Moe Turaga, who voiced his concerns about the possible contamination.

"It would be devastating and I would stop fishing even though I love it,” Mr Turaga said.

"I don't want to be scared of fishing and I know a lot of families would be devastated.”

Yesterday, GPC chief executive Peter O'Sullivan said the organisation had scheduled to undertake seafood sampling in Bundaberg next week.

"Concerned residents should be aware that results from sampling do take some time to come through, although GPC anticipates to have the results by late November,” he said.

"GPC however will do everything within its powers to expedite the process.”

He said they developed a pilot program and executed it in a smaller waterway, before extending the scope further in Gladstone and in Bundaberg.

"There is no evidence at this stage that fish or other seafood in the Burnett River is contaminated with PFAS,” he said.

"At this stage GPC has not sampled the Burnett River, however water quality sampling upstream, associated with the Svensson Heights investigation, indicated that there was no PFAS recorded in the Burnett River.

"Water quality sampling will be undertaken at the same time as the seafood sampling.”

Mr O'Sullivan said the additional results in nearby harbours to Ship Creek indicated it might be a confined issue.

Earlier this year, GPC initiated voluntary water monitoring for per-fluoroalkyl and poly-fluoroalkyl substances at its three port precincts.

This came after authorities advised the town water supply to Svensson Heights residents was contaminated in April.

Mr Sullivan said sampling was undertaken of waterways upstream in relation to the Svensson Heights investigation.

"Those results are available on the Queensland Government PFAS website. GPC was not involved in this investigation,” he said. "Any members of the public who have any health concerns should contact their GP or 13health.”



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