PFAS investigations underway at RFS Westleigh

Further testing is underway at Westleigh Rural Fire Service (RFS) training site, near Hornsby, 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 Hornsby Shire Council, shows the presence of PFAS in some surface water and groundwater 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 further testing will help us to determine any exposure pathways. 

“We will continue to work collaboratively with RFS and Hornsby Shire Council to ensure an appropriate, scientific and risk-based approach is adopted throughout the investigation.

“We are working to ensure these investigations progress in a timely manner, and that the community is aware of any developments as a priority.”

More information on PFAS is available at investigation.htm or by calling the NSW Environment Line on 131 555.


* PFAS (per- and poly- fluoro alkyl 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.