EPA issues PFAS warning

By Tate Papworth

The EPA has issued a warning to the public to stay away from a number of Brimbank waterways.

The agency recommended that people avoid swimming in the water and keep pets away from Arundel Creek,  Deep Creek and Maribyrnong RIver.

Anglers have been advised not to fish in the Maribyrnong River upstream of the Calder Freeway to Deep Creek at Bulla and within all of Arundel Creek

The warning follows a preliminary risk assessment of data provided by Melbourne Airport about levels of PFAS at the airport and in surrounding waterways.

Jacksons Creek and Steele Creek were tested but the warning does not apply to them. Normal drinking water supplies are not affected

The EPA is now organising a multi-agency working group, including Melbourne Water, Southern Rural Water, DHHS, Agriculture Victoria, Victorian Fisheries Authority, DELWP and relevant councils to conduct further testing of water, soil, plant and aquatic life to better understand any public risks.

In a statement released today the EPA said results from the further tests will be made available to the public as soon as possible.

EPA is also contacting 39 Melbourne Water diversion licence holders with advice to cease using water sourced from the Maribyrnong River as a precautionary measure.

While the assessment indicates the use of Maribyrnong River water for irrigation purposes is low risk, further testing will be needed to confirm.

Both Melbourne Airport and Airservices Australia have been conducting investigations into PFAS within the airport grounds and surrounds.

Per-and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of manufactured chemicals which have historically been used in firefighting foams and other industrial and consumer products.

Possible links between PFOS and PFOA exposure and several health effects have been reported in epidemiological studies around the world. However, many of these findings have been inconsistent, with some studies identifying health effects and others finding none.