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Westleigh

What is the situation at Westleigh?

PFAS investigations at the Westleigh Fire Control Centre have now concluded.  The NSW Environment Protection Authority has determined no further investigations are required at the site.

Why was PFAS investigated?

NSW RFS identified PFAS containing firefighting foam was used as part of fire training from 2002 until 2007 at the Westleigh Fire Control Centre. This site is owned by Hornsby Shire Council which proposed to use the site as a sports oval.

What testing was undertaken?

A Detailed Site Investigation in April 2018 by independent environmental consultants included 89 soil samples, nine groundwater samples, samples from the Larool and Waitara Creeks, and a Human Health Risk Assessment.

What were the results?

PFAS compounds in soil were not found to exceed the Human Health PFAS Criteria for Public Open Space (PFAS NEMP 2018). Therefore the site is suitable for use as a sports oval.

Two of the nine groundwater samples exceeded the ecological assessment criteria.  Surface water samples taken from the adjoining creeks were found to be within the drinking water criteria. All of the sediment samples collected were within the assessment criteria.

The Human Health and Ecological Risk Assessment (HHERA) assessed the ways in which people might come into contact with PFAS. This included the potential incidental contact with groundwater and soil (e.g. walking or cycling on site), recreational use or contact with water (e.g. swimming), consumption of fish caught from creeks, bioaccumulation through the food web and the contact with leachate from soil and concrete. The HHERA concluded that improvement action was not required for the site to be used as a sports oval.

It was agreed with the EPA, and in consultation with Hornsby Shire Council, that NSW RFS as a precaution would remove a 10 m x 25 m x 0.3 m section of soil from the north-east of the site.  The excavated soil was removed and then sent to landfill, in accordance with NSW EPA waste classification guidelines.

The concrete pad behind the training centre will be managed immediately prior to the development of the proposed sports oval, in consultation with the Hornsby Shire Council. This work will be validated by environmental consultants.

More information

  • Read more about the NSW EPA state-wide PFAS program and Kemps Creek PFAS investigation.
  • 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 NSWPFAS Taskforce is taking a precautionary approach to protecting human health.
  • You can read more about what the NSW RFS is doing 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 pfas@rfs.nsw.gov.au or contact Debra Thompson, NSW RFS on 02 8508 4040.

Information updated 14 December 2018