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 Technical Advisory Group, 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.

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 version 2

The PFAS National Environmental Management Plan version 2 has now been released by the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture Water and Environment. This is the current version of the PFAS NEMP. It was agreed by Heads of EPAs in October 2019. It has been endorsed by Environment Ministers and has been endorsed for implementation in NSW.

In those jurisdictions that have endorsed it, this version supersedes the first version of the NEMP published in 2018.

The PFAS NEMP establishes a practical basis for nationally consistent environmental guidance and standards for managing PFAS contamination. The plan has been developed by all jurisdictions and recognises the need for implementation of best practice regulation through individual jurisdictional mechanisms. It represents a how-to guide for the investigation and management of PFAS contamination and waste management.

The PFAS NEMP 2.0 provides new and revised guidance on four of the areas that were identified as urgent priorities in the first version of the NEMP

  • Environmental guideline values
  • Soil reuse
  • Wastewater management
  • On-site containment

This new guidance, as well as important clarifications regarding the intent of some of the PFAS NEMP 1.0 material, was developed by the National Chemicals Working Group across 2018 and considered by Heads of EPAs and Environment Ministers in late 2018.  

Consultation on version 2 of NEMP 

The Heads of EPAs Australia and New Zealand (HEPA) and the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE) worked together to develop the PFAS NEMP 2.0. HEPA’s National Chemicals Working Group led the development and consultation process.

The draft PFAS NEMP 2.0 was published on 28 February 2019 with comments due by Friday 21 June 2019. Environmental regulators in all states and territories hosted public consultation sessions in all capital cities across March and April 2019, with the Commonwealth presenting the work on behalf of the National Chemicals Working Group. Around 550 people attended the sessions.

All feedback received was considered by the National Chemicals Working Group and further changes were made in response to that feedback before the document was finalised in late 2019. An ancillary document summarising the feedback and the responses made is expected to be published soon by the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture Water and Environment. 

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.

More information

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