Testing by Melbourne Airport has shown high levels of per- and poly- fluorinated substances (PFAS) at the airport. They also found high levels of PFAS in surrounding waterways, including:

  • Arundel Creek 
  • Steele Creek 
  • Deep Creek 
  • Maribyrnong River. 

PFAS are a large group of widely used manufactured chemicals.  

In the past, Airservices Australia firefighters at Melbourne Airport used firefighting foams containing PFAS. In 2010, Airservices Australia started using firefighting foams that don’t contain PFAS. Some airport tenants still use products that contain PFAS in their operations. Melbourne Airport is working with all of their tenants to phase out using PFAS products. 

For information on the Commonwealth PFAS management program for airports, please visit the National PFAS Management Program page on the Airservices Australia website. The Commonwealth is the lead authority to ensure that federally leased airports take responsibility for onsite and offsite contamination. EPA is working with the Commonwealth to ensure that the duty holder is held accountable for ongoing management of any contamination that exists.

Latest advice for the Maribyrnong catchment 

PFAS in the catchment has not affected normal drinking water supplies.  

We have also issued advice for people to restrict your consumption of fish from the lower Maribyrnong and Lower Yarra rivers. This is due to elevated levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). 

A map showing an aerial view of the Maribyrnong catchment with the waterways highlighted in yellow and green.

Contamination types

Do not consume fish taken in Maribyrnong River upstream of Solomon’s Ford, Avondale Heights

Avoid fishing, swimming or using water from Arundel Creek for stock watering. Pets should also be kept out of Arundel Creek.

Advice for Arundel Creek 

Arundel Creek is a tributary of the Maribyrnong River. Our testing has shown high levels of PFAS. Our advice for Arundel Creek is: 

  • don’t eat fish caught in the creek 
  • don’t swim in the creek 
  • don’t use the water for stock watering 
  • keep pets out of the water. 

Advice for Maribyrnong River upstream of Soloman’s Ford Avondale Heights 

We have worked with Melbourne Water to test samples of water, sediment and fish from between Deep Creek in Bulla to the Anglers Tavern in Maribyrnong. Our advice for this part of the river is: 

  • do not eat fish caught in this part of the river 
  • there are no restrictions on using the river for irrigation and recreation, such as swimming and boating. 

Advice for lower Maribyrnong River 

We have issued advice for the lower (estuarine) Maribyrnong River. There are elevated levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), so our advice is: 

Read next

PFAS in the Maribyrnong catchment: EPA's role

Monitoring for PFAS in the Maribyrnong catchment

Reviewed 18 September 2020