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St Columba's Catholic College

What is the situation at St Columba’s Catholic College?

PFAS investigations at St Columba’s Catholic College have now concluded.  The NSW Environment Protection Authority has determined no further investigations are required at the College.

Why was PFAS investigated?

Foam containing PFAS has been 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 (87 soil samples, 9 groundwater, 8 surface water and 12 produce samples) and a Human Health and Ecological Risk Assessment (HHERA) were completed in May 2018, by independent environmental consultants in consultation with the College.

The HHERA considered the pathways through which NSW RFS members, the school community and members of the public may have come into contact with these chemicals.

What were the results?

The final results showed the Grotto Oval is suitable for use as a sports field. Sampling of Springwood Creek and the Grose River indicated PFAS levels were below or at the detection level. PFAS could not be detected in samples of the various types of produce grown in College gardens.

It was determined that it was unlikely the College community had any significant contact with PFAS.  The College is connected to the town water supply and does not use ground, bore or surface water.  Since 2014, the oval had been used for 2 hours per week by the College for general sporting activities such as soccer and softball.  The oval had not been used since school resumed in 2018 and children were prevented from using the oval while investigations were in progress.

The HHERA did not recommend remediation of the site.  It was agreed with the EPA that NSW RFS, as a precaution, would remove a 10 m x 10 m x 0.1 m section of soil from the Grotto Oval. The excavated soil was removed and then sent to landfill, in accordance with NSW 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 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 22 January 2019.