What is the situation at Singleton?
Detailed PFAS investigations have been undertaken at five locations in the Singleton area:
Cnr of Wollombi & Singleton Street, Broke
2116 Putty Road, Bulga
Bridgman Rd & Retreat Rd, Obanvale
653 Glendon Rd, Roughit
65 Range Rd, Whittingham
The NSW Environment Protection Authority (NSW EPA) has been monitoring the progress of NSW RFS (RFS) PFAS site investigations at these Singleton area locations.
Why is PFAS being 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.
The RFS identified PFAS-containing firefighting foam might have been stored or used as part of fire training and operations at this location. As a precaution, the RFS is undertaking investigations to determine if PFAS from firefighting foam might still be present in the environment.
The presence of PFAS in the environment may not necessarily pose a risk to human health or the environment. There is currently no consistent evidence that exposure to PFOS and PFOA causes adverse human health effects (refer to NSW Health Site). It is important to assess if there are any potential ways in which people might have contact with these chemicals. The primary PFAS exposure pathways are through drinking water containing PFAS, or eating produce that was grown using water containing PFAS. Local residents are connected to the town water supply, which is safe to use.
What testing is being undertaken?
The investigation included sampling of soil, groundwater, surface water and/or sediment by independent environmental consultants on behalf of RFS, which has been completed. Some neighbouring residents were asked to complete a water use survey as part of the investigation.
What were the results?
Sampling has confirmed the presence of PFAS in some soil samples. A review of detailed site investigation results found no off-site PFAS impacts. Those small areas on-site where PFAS were detected were below the PFAS National Environmental Management Plan 2.0 industrial and commercial guidelines.
What happens now?
Site improvement options plans were developed by an independent environmental consultant and reviewed in consultation with the RFS and NSW EPA.
Site improvement works have been completed at:
- Whittingham RFS on 12 December 2020. This included the removal of 31.8 tonnes of soil from the site.
- Scotts Flat RFS on 16 March 2021. This included the removal of 920 tonnes of soil from the site.
- Darlington RFS on 1 June 2021. This included the removal of 465 tonnes of soil from the site.
Soil removed from these locations was sent to landfill, in accordance with NSW EPA waste classification guidelines, and replaced with clean fill.
RFS is currently validating the findings of the previous on-site investigations at Broke and Bulga, taking into consideration the weather events since 2021. Following validation, the remaining site improvement works will be implemented.
- Read more about the NSW EPA state-wide PFAS program including Frequently Asked Questions
- 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 RFS PFAS investigations by monitoring this site.
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Information updated May 2023.