In December 2016 NSW Mines Rescue (Mines Rescue) voluntarily entered the NSW Environment Protection Authority’s (EPA) investigation program assessing the legacy of perand poly- fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) use across NSW as a precautionary measure.
Following the initial preliminary sampling at Newcastle Mines Rescue station in April 2017, which confirmed traces of PFAS in the soil, further testing was undertaken by environmental consultant GHD in line with EPA recommendations and guidelines. The primary purpose of the testing was to identify potential pathways to human exposure and sensitive environmental receptors by identifying the presence and extent of PFAS in ground and surface water locations.
The test results have been received and analysed.
Matthew Fellowes, General Manager of Mines Rescue and Regulation & Compliance confirmed that 18 tests were completed; 10 on site 8 off site.
He said ‘The second stage of investigations have confirmed the presence of PFAS in some locations on and off site at levels which are higher than current guidelines. However, the overall assessment of risk to human health and to environmental receptors is still considered to be low.
‘This is due largely to the supply of municipal drinking water in the area, restricted use of groundwater in the area and low likelihood of exposure on site or through recreational use. The drainage channel to the south of the property is not considered to represent an environment suitable for aquatic ecosystems.
‘However, we will be doing some further monitoring to check wet weather and seasonal variations, including additional groundwater monitoring down gradient of the sites. This is in line with the EPA investigation process and the requirement to thoroughly research any other human health or environmental receptor pathways going off site.’
A proposed approach and plan have been agreed to by the EPA and Coal Services. A timeframe has yet to be finalised for these further investigations.
No formal precautionary advice is required at this stage for our Argenton site, or any of the affected Mines Rescue sites, whilst further testing occurs