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Statement regarding EPA investigation

Published: 19th February 2016

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has advised Fire & Rescue NSW (FRNSW) that preliminary testing of water samples taken from collection ponds at training sites at Londonderry and Albion Park have identified elevated levels of Perfluorinated Chemicals (PFCs), with much lower levels detected in soil.

The chemicals may be linked to the historic use of firefighting foam used by FRNSW and other chemicals such as aviation hydraulic oil used at these sites.

“FRNSW withdrew the use of these foams for both firefighting and training progressively until they were fully eliminated in 2007 as information emerged on possible hazards associated with PFCs,” FRNSW Commissioner Greg Mullins said.

PFCs are considered as emerging contaminants and international research is yet to fully understand their ecological impacts, if any. So far there has been no proven direct link to any adverse health effects related to PFC exposure.

“However, FRNSW is consulting with the Department of Health and the Fire Brigade Employees Union whilst taking a cautious, measured approach.

“The safety of our staff and the community are our highest priority. Together with the EPA we have arranged for more comprehensive testing with results expected to take several more weeks.

“FRNSW will work with a range of other agencies including local councils, water authorities, Department of Health, and NSW EPA to ensure any potential risk of PFC contamination outside of the training sites is identified and limited. We will act immediately on any expert advice concerning health or environmental impacts,” he concluded.

Further health information regarding PFCs can be found here:
http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/factsheets/Pages/RAAF-site-contamination.aspx