Initial investigations at the Lithgow, Hunter Valley and Newcastle Mines Rescue Stations were completed in 2017 with the support of environmental consultants GHD. The objective being to identify the extent of any PFAS (per- and poly- fluoroalkyl substances) contamination at the sites.
The focus of testing was on ground water, surface water and identifying pathways to human exposure and sensitive environmental receptors.
The testing was undertaken in line with the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) recommendations and guidelines. Findings of the investigations were published in October 2017 and can be found here.
Since these initial investigations a PFAS National Environmental Management Plan (NEMP) has been released. NSW Mines Rescue (Mines Rescue) has worked with the EPA to determine and implement further testing requirements under the new guidelines. Mines Rescue is currently in the process of activating Stage Three Investigations which may include further water and soil sampling, water use surveys and seasonal monitoring according to each Mines Rescue site’s requirements.
An Expert Health Panel for PFAS was established to advise the Australian Government on the potential health impacts associated with PFAS exposure and to identify priority areas for further research.
On 7 May 2018, the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Brendan Murphy, released the Expert Health Panel for PFAS Final Report
In this report to the Federal Minister for Health it was noted there is no current evidence to suggest an increase in overall health risk related to PFAS exposure. However, the Expert Panel also said health effects cannot be ruled out at this time.
Because the risks are not fully known, the NSW Government takes a precautionary approach by monitoring PFAS contamination and limiting people’s exposure to PFAS.
The Expert Panel’s report and a factsheet providing more information on PFAS and human health is available at www.health.gov.au/pfas.
Mines Rescue is committed to being open and transparent about these investigations. We will update the community at key stages throughout the investigations, and we encourage the community to contact us about their concerns.
For more information or to provide feedback:
Phone: 1300 001 262