Future NEMP development

The first version of the PFAS National Environmental Management Plan (NEMP) (February 2018) identified 20 future work activities to enhance the NEMP (Section 20, Page 40).

The draft of the NEMP version 2 provides new and revised guidance on four of these activities that were identified as urgent priorities:

  1. Environmental guideline values
  2. Soil reuse
  3. Wastewater management
  4. On-site containment

During this work on the draft NEMP version 2, additional priority activities were identified. These additional activities are included in the NEMP future work program below.

In March 2019 the Heads of EPAs noted the consolidation of the NEMP future work program into six themes. The aim of the consolidation was to focus resources and expertise and help drive progress on the main priorities.

The six themes are:

  • Theme 1: Understanding and managing the PFAS chemical family. This includes, for example, activities that cover validation of analytical methods including TOPA, additional guidance on sampling and the analysis of PFAS other than PFOS, PFOA and PFHxS, and consideration of the need for additional advice on PFAA precursors.
  • Theme 2: Environmental data and monitoring. This includes, for example, activities that cover ambient monitoring and data sharing.
  • Theme 3: Water. This includes, for example, activities that cover the development of ecological guideline values and underpinning research, additional guidance on managing PFAS in wastewater including biosolids, waste water treatment effluent and groundwater, and further guidance on the importance of considering bioaccumulation in risk assessment.
  • Theme 4: Soil. This includes, for example, activities that cover the further development of indirect and direct ecological guideline values for soil, PFAA behaviour and the influence of soil chemistry, and guidance on managing PFAS in soil, such as potential criteria for reuse of soil.
  • Theme 5: Resource recovery and waste management. This includes, for example, activities that cover the development of additional guidance on managing PFAS in resource recovery for non-organic and organic waste, and sampling of unusual matrices including those found in construction waste.
  • Theme 6: Detailed advice on application of the PFAS NEMP guidance. This includes, for example, activities that cover site assessment, remediation and treatment trials, site prioritisation, sampling, and on-site containment.

Submissions

The National Chemicals Working Group is keen to hear suggestions regarding the NEMP forward work program and feedback on aspects of the NEMP that are either new or significantly revised. Between March and April 2019, the Group, under the direction of HEPA, hosted open consultation sessions in all capital cities around Australia.

The presentation slides from the consultations including information on the new and revised elements of the NEMP are available here.

The text that has changed from version 1 of the PFAS NEMP is shows in version 2 of the draft NEMP with a coloured background. There are two categories of changes which are highlighted:

  • new or significantly amended material – feedback is invited on these changes
  • editorial revisions to more clearly communicate the original intention of the NEMP text are shown for information – these changes are not subject to consultation.

Version 2 of the draft NEMP is available at the following links:

The consultations

Written submissions can be emailed to PFASstandards@environment.gov.au at any time from 1 March to 21 June 2019. Note this deadline has been extended from the original deadline of 31 May 2019. The optional response template (PDF; Word) may be helpful to assist in providing feedback. We request that you use the subject line "Submission on PFAS Draft NEMP version 2" when emailing a response.

Confidentiality

It is preferred that submissions do not contain confidential elements to be consistent with a transparent review and decision making process.

All submissions will be treated as public documents, unless the author(s) of the submission clearly requests otherwise. Public submissions may be published in full, including any personal information of authors and/or other third parties contained in the submission.

If a part of a submission includes confidential or sensitive information it should be provided in a separate attachment. Alternatively a redacted version may be submitted.

If a submission contains personal information about any person who is not an author of the submission, please indicate on the cover sheet if the person or persons have not consented to the publication of this information.

Any requests for access to a submission marked ‘confidential’ under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 or state and territory freedom of information requirements will be determined in accordance with those requirements.

Human health soil screening criteria for PFOS, PFHxS and PFOA

The PFAS NEMP 1.0 included guidance values, also known as screening criteria, to assess potential human exposure to PFAS through direct soil contact. These screening criteria were originally developed for screening contaminated soil to use in site investigations in New South Wales.

Subsequently, the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage led a National Chemicals Working Group (NCWG) project team tasked with considering whether the human health soil screening values for ‘Residential with garden/accessible soil’ in the NEMP should be updated in the second version of the PFAS National Environmental Management Plan (PFAS NEMP). This NCWG work led to the preparation of a report titled Human health soil screening criteria for PFOS, PFHxS and PFOA.

This report provides an overview of the derivation process for each of the land-use scenarios and presents the revised criteria for the ‘Residential with garden/accessible soil’ land-use scenario based on a review of soil to plant transfer factors.

Reviewed 8 November 2019