THE City of Cockburn says residents should not be alarmed after the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) moved to investigate the safety of the Success Fire Station.
In an announcement last Monday, DFES said it had taken the precautionary measure to close the Hammond Road station after a fire fighter was diagnosed with kidney cancer. It was the fourth such case in the past six years.
DFES said it had organised for an independent consultant to further test after preliminary investigations failed to link the cause of the cancer to the station or a specific incident.
‘Attributing a disease to any particular work or residential location can be very difficult,’ the statement read.
‘It can require large amounts of information, including information about those workers, residents and others who are not suffering from a particular disease.
‘Even with such information, identifying a common environmental cause is rare.’
Personnel were shifted to Hope Valley Fire Station, but Cockburn Council will allow DFES to use the emergency services building on Poletti Road while tests are carried out. Cockburn’s planning and development director Daniel Arndt said the City was liaising with the environmental consultant about the history of the site and nearby properties.
‘There is no evidence to suggest any potentially hazardous substances or chemicals are in the area and there is no cause for concern for residents or users of the nearby sporting facility,’ he said.
Locals took to social media to share their concerns for the fire fighter and themselves.
Some theorised that contaminated water, a nearby power line corridor, or exposure to carcinogens while on the job could be to blame for the illness.
A spokesperson for the Water Corporation said they were concerned a link was being made between the quality of drinking water and the situation at the fire station.
She said regular water quality tests were done to ensure standards set by the Department of Health were met.
‘Supplying customers with safe drinking water is the Water Corporation’s highest priority,’ she said.
‘These allegations can cause unnecessary alarm for the local community.’
Of concern over nearby powerlines, Western Power’s head of health and environment safety Richard Gough said their network was built to comply with the national standards and guidelines.
‘There is no evidence that exposure to electromagnetic fields around the home, office or near powerlines causes adverse health effects,’ he said.
Cancer Council Australia on Kidney Cancer:
– Kidney cancer is the sixth most common cancer diagnosed in Australian men and eleventh in women.
– Kidney cancer caused 877 deaths in Australia in 2011.
– Symptoms include blood in the urine, pain or a dull ache in the side or lower back, a lump in the abdomen, tiredness, rapid and unexplained weight loss, fever.
– The causes of kidney cancer are unknown, but smoking, overuse of pain relievers containing phenacetin, workplace exposure to asbestos or cadmium, and a family history of kidney cancer can put you at increased risk.
– The five-year survival rate for Australians diagnosed with kidney cancer is 72 per cent. An individual’s prognosis depends on the type and stage of cancer as well as their age and general health at the time of diagnosis.
– For more information, contact Cancer Council 13 11 20.