The NSW Government PFAS Investigation Program

NSW has a nation leading, state-wide PFAS investigation program underway to identify the use and impacts of legacy PFAS.

The EPA is leading an investigation program to assess the legacy of PFAS use across NSW. With the assistance of the NSW PFAS Taskforce, which includes NSW Health, Department of Primary Industries and the Office of Environment and Heritage, we provide impacted residents with tailored, precautionary dietary advice to help them reduce any exposure to PFAS.

Current investigations are focused on sites where it is likely that large quantities of PFAS have been used. The EPA is currently investigating PFAS at these sites:  

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Sampling and analysis

The EPA is collecting samples of soils and/or waters for analysis for PFAS. The EPA is also looking for exposure pathways that may increase people’s contact with the chemicals, such as bore and surface water usage.

If significant levels are detected and human or ecological exposure is likely, a more detailed assessment will be undertaken.

Please see the EPA’s decision tree for prioritising sites potentially contaminated with per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

The EPA has developed a technical note on designing sampling programs for sites potentially contaminated by PFAS, which provides technical guidance for consultant investigations of PFAS in soil, groundwater and surface water for contaminated land assessment and management. 

The EPA will work with the occupiers and owners of these sites, or the responsible parties, to clean-up the site, where necessary.

Timeframes for the investigation

The initial investigations can take approximately six months, with further testing undertaken where required. 

Test findings are made available throughout the investigations.

More information is available on the NSW EPA PFAS investigation process page.

Release of the National Environmental Management Plan for PFAS 

The PFAS National Environmental Management Plan (NEMP) (PDF 1.2MB) provides a clear, coherent and nationally-consistent approach to the environmental regulation of PFAS in Australia. 

The NEMP includes a practical and risk-based framework including guidance on the storage, re-use and disposal of contaminated material, as well as guidance on site assessments and remediation that governments can use to manage and regulate PFAS in their jurisdictions. 

The Plan reflects the current state of knowledge and has been designed to adapt to local circumstances, emerging priorities and as further information about the chemicals becomes available.

Environment ministers agreed in November 2016 that all jurisdictions have a critical role to play in developing nationally consistent standards. Coordinated by the Victorian Environment Protection Authority, all State and Territory Heads of Environment Protection Authorities, and the Australian Government worked to develop and adopt the NEMP. 

Development of the NEMP 2.0 

Over the last year, the National Chemicals Working Group has been working to refine a second version of the NEMP that will include additional materials. Consultation on this document will soon occur around Australia, with final comments due by Friday 31 May 2019. 

Consultation sessions are currently being planned and further details will be available on this page soon. The draft PFAS NEMP 2.0, and details of the consultation arrangements, are available on the EPA Victoria website.

Working with our stakeholders

The NSW Government is committed to working closely with all relevant government agencies, to closely monitor the progress of investigations, and to keep local communities informed. Government agencies include local councils, NSW Department of Primary Industries, NSW Health, NSW Food Authority, and where necessary the Commonwealth Department of Defence, and Commonwealth Department of Health.

In NSW the polluter pays for and manages any clean-up required. Although the NSW Government cannot regulate Defence sites, it has outlined expectations that Defence will carry out investigations in a timely manner that is consistent with the EPA’s requirements and processes.

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