Healthy Environment, Healthy Community, Healthy Business

Environment Protection Authority

PFAS investigations underway at RFS Nowra

Media release: 16 June 2017

Testing is underway at Nowra Rural Fire Service (RFS) training site, as part of the state-wide PFAS* investigation program being led by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA).

Preliminary sampling undertaken by RFS at the site, which is owned by Shoalhaven City Council, shows the presence of PFAS in some surface water samples taken offsite.

EPA Executive Director Hazardous Incidents and Environmental Health Sarah Gardner said contamination in the environment is often found where PFAS containing fire-fighting foams have been used for training.

“Importantly, there is no consistent evidence of any human health effects related to PFAS exposure,” Mrs Gardner said.

“However, because the NSW Government is taking a precautionary approach, we need to determine if there are any pathways through which people might come into contact with PFAS.

“Residents are connected to town water, so this decreases the likelihood of contact with the chemicals. But RFS is asking a small number of local residents to conduct a water use survey. This will help us determine if residents use bore or dam water on their property, which is one of the ways they might to be exposed to PFAS. 

“We will continue to work collaboratively with RFS and Shoalhaven City Council to ensure an appropriate, scientific and risk-based approach is adopted throughout the investigation, and that the community receives information as a priority.”

More information on PFAS is available at www.epa.nsw.gov.au/MediaInformation/pfas investigation.htm or by calling the NSW Environment Line on 131 555.

* PFAS (per- and poly- fluoroalkyl substances) are a group of chemicals that include perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS). As they have heat, water and stain repelling properties, PFAS have been widely used in a range of industrial and consumer products both in Australia and internationally, including in fire retardants, water proofing, food preparation, food packaging, furnishings, clothing and recreational equipment.

Contact: EPA Public Affairs

Page last updated: 16 June 2017