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Environment Protection Authority

PFC investigations are underway in Londonderry

Media release: 18 May 2016

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) today confirmed that further testing for perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) will be undertaken at the TestSafe Australia site in Londonderry. This follows the EPA's announcement earlier this year of a state-wide investigation program into the extent of PFC use and possible presence in the local environment.

The Londonderry site, which is shared with Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) for firefighting training purposes, is being tested due to the historical use of PFC-containing firefighting foam.

Preliminary sampling undertaken at the site has shown the presence of PFCs in both soil and water. The EPA is collaborating with TestSafe, a division of SafeWork NSW, on a program for further investigation. This includes the collection of soil, groundwater and surface water samples. 

NSW EPA Manager Hazardous Incidents, Andrew Mitchell, said the investigation is part of the EPA’s precautionary approach to determining the nature, extent and location of PFCs on and around the site.

“At this stage of the investigation, TestSafe’s onsite sampling indicates that any PFC levels leaving the site would be low. However the EPA has asked that further testing be carried out at the site over the coming weeks,” Mr Mitchell said.

“The EPA is working with TestSafe and FRNSW to keep residents and the local community informed of the investigation’s progress.”

PFCs are a group of chemicals that include perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). As these have water, grease and oil repelling properties, PFCs 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.

Due to their wide-spread use over many decades, PFCs are commonly found in the environment at low levels and their presence does not necessarily indicate a risk to human health.

For more information about the state-wide investigation program and/or PFCs, visit www.epa.nsw.gov.au/MediaInformation/pfcinvestigation.htm or call the Environment Line on 131 555.  

Contact: EPA Public Affairs

Page last updated: 18 May 2016