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Shoalhaven Fire Control Centre

What is the situation at Shoalhaven Fire Control Centre?

PFAS investigations at Shoalhaven Fire Control Centre have now concluded.  A dam management plan, for a small onsite holding dam, has been prepared.

The NSW Environment Protection Authority has been monitoring the progress of NSW RFS PFAS investigations at the Shoalhaven Fire Control Centre.

Why was PFAS investigated?

Foam containing PFAS was used in firefighting activities, such as fuel type fires and training, by some Rural Fire Brigades since 1975 for the protection of people and property.

What testing was undertaken?

A detailed site investigation (DSI) and a Human Health and Ecological Risk Assessment (HHERA), completed in May 2018, were conducted in consultation with the NSW EPA and Shoalhaven City Council. The DSI included the collection of the following samples: 49 soil, 9 groundwater, 21 sediment (10 dry weather and 11 wet weather) and 19 surface water in drain lines and creeks (3 dry weather and 16 wet weather).

The HHERA, completed by independent environment consultants, considered and assessed the pathways through which people might come into contact with PFAS, for example:

  • site workers carrying out site works
  • visitors and temporary maintenance workers
  • recreational use of bushland and creeks down gradient to the east of the site
  • residents down gradient who might extract groundwater for irrigation
  • consumers of biota, such as fish or crustaceans, from the creek to the east of site.

What were the results?

Investigations determined PFAS detections above the PFAS National Environmental Management (NEMP) guidelines for soil were limited to the site and the small dam.  Groundwater samples collected as part of the investigation did not exceed the NEMP drinking water guidelines and were under the applicable ecological guidelines.  The HHERA determined there is no risk to human health onsite or off-site. Residents are connected to town water which is safe to use.

What happens now?

It was agreed with the NSW EPA  that NSW RFS, would develop a site improvement options plan to prevent any potential off-site effects.  Precautionary site improvement works commenced in mid-December 2018, including:

  • removal of sediment in drainage pits (completed)
  • removal of approximately 150 tonnes of soil adjacent to a concreted area on site (completed)
  • treatment of a 7 metre square portion of an affected concrete pad cleaning/treatment of water and sediment in the dam to reduce any potential risk of water entering nearby creeks during major rain events.  Sediment removed from the site will be disposed of in accordance with EPA waste classification guidelines.

More information

  • Read more about the NSW EPA state-wide PFAS program.
  • Questions about the NSW EPA’s state-wide PFAS investigation program can be directed to the NSW Environment Line on 131 555.
  • NSW Health has a range of information available about PFAS.
  • The Commonwealth Department of Health’s Expert Health Panel provided advice on the health impacts of PFAS (May 2018). While there is no consistent evidence of any human health effects related to PFAS exposure, the NSW PFAS Technical Advisory Group is taking a precautionary approach to protecting human health.
  • You can read more about what the NSW RFS PFAS investigations by monitoring this site.

Our commitment to you

We will work to keep you up to date on investigations.

You can register for updates or ask questions by emailing or contact Debra Thompson, NSW RFS on 02 8508 4040.

Information updated 12 Nov 2020.