Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has been advised by the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) that it has detected a very low concentration of PFOS in recycled water it uses at its Craigieburn training campus.
The identified concentration is below the Federal Government's Environmental Health Standing Committee (enHealth) guidelines for PFOS and is not considered a risk to human health or the environment.
The campus uses recycled water with its firefighting foams during training exercises and all foams are non-PFOS. As a precautionary measure, MFB tests its recycled water every six months to confirm no PFOS is present.
EPA has been informed that a very low PFOS reading was detected in a sample taken on 22 September. A retest taken on 10 October also confirmed the presence of PFOS.
In response to the test results, the site will operate on mains water until an investigation by MFB into the source of the PFOS is completed.
MFB has been proactive in seeking to identify the source of the chemicals and kept EPA informed throughout its investigation.
EPA understands that MFB has also identified low levels of PFOS and PFOA in trade waste which is discharged through the sewerage system. Training in the affected area has been suspended pending further review and testing.
Yarra Valley Water, which is responsible for the sewerage system, has been notified.
MFB has also detected low levels of PFOS and PFOA in the on-site recycled water treatment system.
MFB have engaged environmental consultants to identify the likely source of the chemicals and any options for removing them.
EPA will issue statutory notices to formalise MFB’s stated intentions to remedy the situation.
Earlier this week EPA took water and sediment samples from nearby Merri Creek to assess for impacts to nearby waterways and is currently awaiting the results.
PFOS and PFOA are types of chemicals which broadly come under the term per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. A fact sheet on PFAS is available here.