Investigation underway into Shoalhaven River incident

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) was advised by Shoalhaven City Council on 16 May, after they received a report, that up to 100,000 litres of PFAS contaminated waste water was discharged into the Shoalhaven sewer system in March this year, ultimately ending up in the Shoalhaven River.

The PFAS Taskforce has advised that no new or additional precautionary dietary advice is required as a result of this incident.  

The waste water was allegedly discharged to the sewer system from the operations of Sikorsky Aircraft Australia, who provide maintenance services to HMAS Albatross.

The sewer system flows to the Nowra sewage treatment plant which discharges into the Shoalhaven River at Boolong Road, approximately 2km east of the Princess Highway.

Shoalhaven City Council is leading an investigation and reported the matter to the NSW EPA after becoming aware of the incident on Thursday 16 May. The EPA is providing support and advice to Council.

At the request of the EPA, the NSW PFAS Taskforce has examined sample results of the waste water discharge and has reviewed current precautionary advice.

The PFAS Taskforce has advised that the precautionary dietary advice for the Shoalhaven River issued in October 2018 is still appropriate.

No change to current advice for commercial and recreational fishers:

  • Commercial fishers can continue to sell fish they catch in the Shoalhaven River and this fishery remains open.
  • Recreational fishers who regularly catch and eat their own fish in the Shoalhaven River can continue to do so safely but should follow the dietary advice for consumption of Luderick, Sea Mullet, Sand Whiting, Dusky Flathead, Silverbiddy and Mulloway from the identified area, to limit their personal intake.
  • Oysters are not impacted and are safe to eat.

Dietary advice, including a fact sheet, is available here: https://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/your-environment/contaminated-land/pfas-investigation-program/pfas-investigation-sites/Shoalhaven-River

Dietary advice is also available on the DPI website here: https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/795629/15042-Shoalhaven-Dietary-Advice-OCT18_V2.pdf