What is the situation at Westleigh?
The NSW RFS has used PFAS containing foam between 2002 and until discontinued its use in 2007 at the Westleigh training site 12 Warrigal Drive, Westleigh. This site is owned by Hornsby Shire Council who are proposing to use the site as a sports oval.
A Detailed Site Investigation (89 Soil Samples, 9 Groundwater Samples and samples from the Larool and Waitara Creek) and a Human Health Risk Assessment was completed by consultant Senversa in April 2018. PFAS compounds were not found in soil to exceed the Human Health PFAS Criteria (PFAS NEMP 2018) for Public Open Space and the site is therefore suitable for use as a Sports Oval. 2 of the 9 groundwater samples exceeded the adopted 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 Risk Assessment considered and assessed the pathways through which people might be exposed to PFAS. The pathways considered included but not limited to potential incidental contact with groundwater and soil (walking or cycling on site), recreational use/contact with water (e.g. swimming) and consumption of fish recreationally caught from creeks in the wider area, bioaccumulation through the food web and the contact with leachate from soil and concrete. The Human Health Risk Assessment has concluded that no remediation action was necessary for the site to be used as a Sports Oval.
The presence of PFAS in the environment does not necessarily mean there is a human health risk. In May 2018, the Commonwealth Department of Health’s Expert Health Panel has provided advice on the health impacts of PFAS. While there is no consistent evidence of any human health effects related to PFAS exposure, the NSW PFAS Taskforce is taking a precautionary approach to protecting human health.
What happens now?
Neither the soil nor the concrete exceeded the PFAS National Environmental Management Plan (NEMP) Criteria for “Public Open Spaces”. However, in consultation with NSW Environmental Protection Authority and Hornsby Shire Council, NSW RFS is adopting a precautionary approach (see attached drawings) to remove 10m x 25m x 0.3m of soil patch (NW of the site) over the next few months. 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 Senversa (Investigation Consultant).
NSW RFS is going to inform the community members who have requested specific information, brief the Councillors of the Hornsby Shire Council and communicate with the residents attending for a such as the Westleigh Progress Association Annual Meeting proposed for 11th of September, 2018.
What should you do in the meantime?
You can read about the statewide PFAS program at www.epa.nsw.gov.au/MediaInformation/pfasinvestigation.htm Also, a fact sheet on the site is currently under preparation and will be made available in the near future on the NSW EPA and NSW RFS websites.
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Information updated 16 July 2018