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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?

On 3 April 2017, The Australian Government’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Brendan Murphy has announced the publishing of the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), Perfluorinated Chemicals in Food:

Australian guidance values for assessing exposure to perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)

FSANZ has recommended final health based guidance values for PFOS and PFOA in the form of a tolerable daily intake. A tolerable daily intake is a level of daily oral exposure over a lifetime that is considered to be without significant health risk for humans.

Based on FSANZ’s recommended tolerable daily intake, the Department of Health has calculated drinking water quality and recreational water quality values for use in site investigations in Australia.

The health based guidance values for use in site investigations in Australia are:

Toxicity reference value PFOS/PFHxS PFOA
ng µg ng µg
Tolerable daily intake (ng or µg /kg bw/day) 20 0.02 160 0.16
Drinking water quality value (ng or µg /L) 70 0.07 560 0.56
Recreational water quality value (ng or µg /L) 700 0.7 5,600 5.6

Note: bw = body weight, ng = nanograms, µg = micrograms

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.