Response to Radio NZ questions on PFAS

On 10 January 2020, Radio NZ incorrectly reported figures relating to PFAS and public relations expenditure, using two different figures - $288,000 and $228,000.
This is the information they were sent:
In December last year, the NZDF provided Radio NZ with a summary of NZDF PFAS related expenditure. This is the table that was sent:
NZDF PFAS-related expenditure summary (to 30 June 2019:

  • Investigation: $4,609,998
  • Affected party liaison and reporting: $1,750,214
  • Laboratory analysis: $570,043
  • Technical support and reporting: $1,247,477
  • Provision of alternate water supplies to affected parties: $292,659
  • Waste Management: $908,113
  • Logistics (travel, venue hire, catering, cleaning, etc): $166,111

Total $9,544,614
As you will see from the table, since 2015 NZDF has committed significant resources to investigating the extent to which PFAS from legacy firefighting foams has reached groundwater on NZDF bases and neighbouring properties. In 2015, little was known in New Zealand about PFAS compounds and that knowledge has been evolving. NZDF has been carefully and methodically testing to understand the significance of PFAS not just on our bases but also on neighbouring properties.  Comprehensive Site Investigation Reports (CSIRs) were commissioned to predict and assess the potential movement of PFAS compounds in surface and groundwater beyond NZDF bases over time, and have utilised data from all our testing to date.  These comprehensive reports have been provided to local and central government authorities.
The NZDF has provided the CSIR reports to local authorities for their information, and it will continue to engage with local authorities and central government agencies as part of the Ministry for the Environment-led All-of-Government group looking into PFAS.
You asked for comment on a figure of $288,000 spent on a contractor. The correct figure is $228,000 in the financial year 18/19. Of that amount $125,000 related to that individual’s work on PFAS. Their primary function was to develop communications to convey information to affected parties, residents and landowners, and to local and central government agencies. They also provided information in response to media inquiries and OIA requests.
Defence Public Affairs employs 45 people, both uniformed and civilian. The budget for salary for the year 18/19 was $4.5m.
The staff at Defence Public Affairs include military photographers, military liaison officers, civilian videographers, graphic designers producing service magazines and corporate documents and a command/management team as well as a media team and advisers dealing with internal and external communications at camps and bases around the country, including HQNZDF.

This page was last reviewed on 14 January 2020.