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Royal Australia Air Force (RAAF) workers suffering cellular damage having worked with Jet Fuel

Australian Outback | Shine Lawyers

Some workers exposed to jet fuel within the RAAF have suffered damage to their body cells, which could have unknown long term consequences to their health. Research released under a Freedom of Information laws request has found that this link is “evidence of small but persistent cellular damage” Dr Ian Garden recently told the ABC.

The findings raise the possibility that a large number of defence workers may be entitled to seek chemical exposure compensation should their health deteriorate. Some RAAF workers who have experienced ill health have already come forward having been exposed to jet fuel on the infamous F-111 deseal/reseal project.

Cellular damage not confined to direct contact with fuel

The research project was led by Professor Francis Bowling of Brisbane’s Mater Hospital and set out to investigate why some of the workers on the deseal/reseal project suffered serious health impacts while others didn’t. These health impacts include depression, anxiety, memory loss, skin conditions, gastro-intestinal problems and an increased risk of cancer.

The research suggests jet fuel damages cells, and that the damage isn’t confined to areas of the body that come into direct contact with the fuel. It’s believed that the fuel components are transported to other organs around the body.

The research also suggested that those workers with inherited defects in their mitochondria might be at more risk than others.

Two maintenance workers on the deseal/reseal project who died of severe neurodegenerative disease were found after post-mortems to have such defects.

‘Malignant potential’ of cell damage

The report also suggests that it was possible some of the damaged cells to live on in the body with malignant potential, but that the long term effects at this stage were unknown.

Dr Gardner, who spoke to the ABC said “This study does not say jet fuel can cause malignancy, what it suggests is there are mechanisms that might be a possible explanation for cancers.”

The revelations that come out of the report are not only significant for the RAAF and it workers, past and present exposed to jet fuel, but also to other parts of the Defence Force that use similar fuels.

“The components of the fuel exhibiting toxicity are common to most fuels. Consideration should be given to further studies of workers exposed to fuel of any type,” the report said.

The ADF is now liaising with other industries, including the civil aviation industry, where workers might have been exposed to jet fuel.

Written by Shine Lawyers on . Last modified: May 23, 2018.

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    I worked at Oakey, from principal job was to refuel all aircraft as well as de_fuel. We’re given gloves (far too large, or just. use barrier. cream)? You were there for sent for punishment where you would buy a loser pay and you would be in financial bad way sometimes the charges you up to $600 the gloves in the equipment will given we totally inadequate people had constant spills covered by myself was received extremely bad chemical Burns from the fuel systems icing inhibitor that is put into the aircraft aviation fuel you hold of refined kerosene we also had to drink contaminated contaminated water while we’re out bush that was brought from Oakey to Shoalwater trade paint automate training area because we would have been charged at a monetary taken from my pay which is a rather large amount we did could not go to the regimental aid post to see the doctor because you would have been charged for therefore we would tonight medical treatment I’m willing to put this on a stat deck and I also have medical files relating to my end duties received from chemical Burns from the fuel system asking inhibitor

    • Shine Lawyers wrote:

      Thanks for getting in contact Kingsley, and sorry to hear about your experience. We need a bit more information from you to help determine the best course of action. A member of our New Client Team will be able to gather more details, talk through the services we offer and let you know if we can help. You can find the contact details here:

  • William George Hatton wrote:

    l worked on the F1-11 as a welder for 4 years 9 months ,Standing Orders stated (1977) that welders, painters was to have 6 monthly blood test for heavy metals.
    The first test was positive for cadmium (>.05),on the
    return visit 6 month latter, l was informed by the nurse not to come back for any blood test.
    In 2007 l developed prostrate cancer,excised at
    Cabrini hospital Victoria.
    During my service life,l had exposure to an array of metals, chemicals (solvents).

    • Shine Lawyers wrote:

      Hi William, I’m sorry to hear about your experience. If you wanted to see if we can help with your situation, get in touch with our New Client Team. They will be able to gather more details, talk through the services we offer and let you know if we can assist. You can find the contact details here:

  • Keith Andrew DAVIS wrote:

    Hi,I worked as a civilian labourer for several weeks at the Williamstown Air Base back in late 1981.Over the last few years,I’ve discovered that I have prostate cancer.With no known family history of it.I was wondering if I could have been put at risk while there.

    • Shine Lawyers wrote:

      Hi Keith, thanks for your enquiry. If you get in touch with our New Client Team they will be able to gather more details, talk through the services we offer and put you in touch with the expert team looking into this if we are able to assist you. You can find the contact details here:

  • Helen Clutterham wrote:

    Hi My husband RAAF 1969-89 worked at Wagga, Edinburgh, Point Cook, Laverton and Tottenham as a driver. Was often involved in refuelling aircraft and also adding additives to prevent mould to fuel storage tanks with no protection. He has just been diagnosed with Leukemia. Where to now?

    • Shine Lawyers wrote:

      Hi Helen, I’m sorry to hear about your husband’s diagnosis. His situation sounds like something we may be able to help with, but we’ll need a bit more information about his situation to determine the best course of action. If you get in touch with our New Client Team, they will be able to gather more details, talk through the services we offer and let you/your husband know if we can help. You can find our contact details here: ~Steph

  • greg wenck wrote:

    okay very interested as i worked in fuel tanks for F111c, Hercules and the mirage aircraft as an aiframe fitter where we were continually exposed to high levels of aviation fuel. decanting fuel tanks working in side fuel tanks etc pulling external fuel tanks apart.
    no real protection from all the risks in mid 70s to mid 80s.

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