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Investigation FAQs

What is the environmental investigation about?

FRNSW has engaged an independent environmental consultant to undertake an environmental investigation into the presence of per-and poly-fluroalkyl substances (PFAS) on, and in the vicinity of, a number of our training sites across NSW where legacy firefighting foams containing PFAS have been used.

Please refer to the about the investigation page on this website for more information

What activities will be undertaken as part of the environmental investigation?

The environmental investigation will involve:

  • desktop studies
  • targeted sampling and testing of local groundwater and monitoring wells on and off the site
  • monitoring, sampling and testing surface water and sediment within drainage lines
  • community water and land use surveys to inform the assessment of potential exposure risks to people
  • ongoing liaison with relevant State and Local government authorities in relation to possible health and environmental effects of these compounds
  • community updates as required
  • on-going engagement with residents and stakeholders.

Will my property be tested?

If your property is selected for sampling as part of the environmental investigation, you will receive an access request letter and consent form seeking permission to sample your property. The project team will contact you to arrange a suitable date and time.

The project team will contact you again, one or two days prior to the agreed appointment time to confirm access.

If you wish to make changes to the sampling date or time please contact the project team.

For the purposes of the environmental investigation, not every property in the area currently under investigation needs to be tested to estimate the extent of PFOS and PFOA.

The location of future sample/test sites will be informed by the data gathered and the technical information needed to progress the investigation.

How long will the sampling team need to be at my property to take samples?

The sampling team will need to be at your property for between 30 minutes and an hour. The time will depend on the number of samples that need to be collected on the property.
The landholder or a representative needs to be present at the property to assist with safe access (e.g. ensuring pets or livestock are secured, gates unlocked, electric fencing is turned off, if required).

How long will it take to receive my test results?

From the time the samples are collected from your property, it may take from 3-5 weeks for your results to be provided.
Before results are provided, the samples are analysed by the laboratory, verified and technically analysed against other test results and field data collected by the technical team, as part of undertaking the investigation.

What screening levels are used in FRNSW environmental investigations?

There are no approved screening levels for concentrates of PFASs in soil, groundwater or surface water in Australian guidance. Recent documentation released by the Government of the Western Australia Department of Environment Regulations (DER, 2016) provides some interim screening values. The Australian Department of Defence has also developed interim guidance based on a review of available literature on PFOS and PFOA toxicity to human and aquatic ecosystems, however, it is not currently in the public domain.

Our Environmental Consults has also undertaken a review of available PFOS and PFOA information from Australia and overseas and developed interim screening levels (ISLs) which have been adopted for these investigations.

Adopted PFOS/PFOA ISLs – Soil and Groundwater

MediaExposure ScenarioPFOS 1PFOASourceComments
Soil Human Health Interim Screening Level (HISL) - Industrial Commercial (mg/kg) 100 240

USEPA Region 4 2009 (in USEPA 2014) - PFOA

DER (2016) - PFOS

A scaling factor of 15 applied to residential criteria for PFAS
Human Health Interim Screening Level (HISL) - Residential (mg/kg) 4 - DER (2016) - PFOS  
Human Health Interim Screening Level (HISL) - Terrestrial (mg/kg) 0.373 3.73 UK Environment Agency 2009  
Water Human Health Interim Screening Level (HISL) - Drinking water (µg/L) 0.5 5

Enhealth (2016) - PFOA

DER (2016) - PFOS

Human Health Interim Screening Level (HISL) - Secondary contact (µg/L) 5 20

Enhealth (2016) - PFOA

DER (2016) - PFOS

Ecological Interim Screening Level (EISL) - Fresh/Marine water (µg/L) 0.13 220 DER (2016) For protection of slightly disturbed ecological systems

Enhealth (June 2016) recommends PFOS and PHxS exposures should be summed and the total compared to the TDI for PFOS.

How can I find out more and be kept informed about the environmental investigation?

FRNSW will update the community throughout the environmental investigation. This will include:

  • project website updates including updates to the FAQs
  • community information sessions as required
  • project updates/fact sheets
  • direct liaison with residents where sampling is occurring on their property

For more information please contact the project team.