Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) regulates the disposal, reuse and management of PFAS affected materials, like soil, in line with Victoria’s environment protection regulations.  

EPA also uses its powers to hold polluters and landholders to account. We do this by issuing remedial notices that order the investigation and cleanup of pollution, including PFAS.

We have the authority to classify or reclassify waste, including PFAS-affected material, so it can be:

  • treated 
  • reused with strict conditions or
  • disposed of at a licensed facility.

EPA’s role

It is EPA’s responsibility to:

  • regulate the disposal and reuse of PFAS-affected materials, like soil 
  • provide environmental public health information about PFAS 
  • expand scientific knowledge about PFAS pollution in soil, water, groundwater and landfill leachate.

We fulfil our responsibilities by doing things like:

  • assess applications for the treatment, reuse or disposal of PFAS-affected materials
  • require that any treatment, reuse or disposal complies with strict conditions
  • issue alerts and consumption advice about PFAS
  • monitor the environment for PFAS and other chemicals.

Watch this video for more information:

Video transcript

Presenter: 
Mark Rossiter
Executive Director
EPA Victoria

EPA is Victoria’s environmental regulator. It is our role to protect the environment and people from the harmful effects of pollution and waste. This means we are responsible for regulating the treatment, disposal and reuse of PFAS, and any materials, like soil, that contain PFAS. 

So where is it found? Because PFAS has been used in many industrial and household products for over 60 years, including fire-fighting foams, we find low levels of PFAS in the environment in Victoria and around Australia. We sometimes see higher levels of PFAS at sites where fire-fighting foams were used. PFAS have never been manufactured in Australia.

So what’s EPA’s position on PFAS? The EPA takes a precautionary approach to PFAS. This means we advise people to reduce their exposure to PFAS as much as possible.

Our approach is consistent with Australia’s national guidelines by the Environment Health Standing Committee, or enHealth.

So how does the EPA regulate PFAS? Because the EPA takes a precautionary approach, we have rigorous regulations to ensure PFAS is safely managed, transported and disposed. 

For example, in Victoria, you have to apply and gain EPA approval before you can reuse soil. This is true for soil containing PFAS or any other pollutant. We always carefully assess applications for the reuse of soil containing PFAS, and we base our decisions on scientific information and detailed analysis. We also ensure that all PFAS treatment, reuse or disposal complies with strict conditions. Anywhere soil is proposed to be stored, reused or deposited, the safety of the surrounding community is of course a priority. 

So what are EPA’s other responsibilities related to PFAS? We monitor the environment for PFAS and other chemicals and we issue alerts and advice about PFAS.

You can find out more about how EPA regulates PFAS on our website.

Site investigations

The Environment Protection Act 1970 states that an environmental audit assesses the nature and extent of harm, or risk of harm, to the environment posed by an industrial process or activity, waste, substance or noise. It is about understanding the type of pollution and the harm it poses.

As part of work carried out on PFAS-impacted sites, EPA requires duty holders to investigate whether offsite contamination has occurred.

EPA is aware of a number of sites across Victoria that have been impacted by PFAS. Further detail is available on some of these sites:

EPA’s position on PFAS

While scientific research continues to be undertaken, EPA, consistent with federal guidelines from the Environmental Health Standing Committee (enHealth), takes a precautionary approach and advises people to reduce their exposure to PFAS.

EPA’s Interim position statement on PFAS (publication 1669) reflects the most up-to-date information from the 2019 enHealth Guidance Statement and is supported by additional assessments by EPA.

Victoria’s environment protection laws are intended to change in July 2021, with the implementation of a general environmental duty (GED) requiring anyone conducting an activity that poses risks to human health and the environment to minimise those risks, so far as reasonably practicable. The interim position statement informs how EPA expects people to act to comply with current and future legislation.

EPA supports and has adopted the PFAS National Environmental Management Plan (NEMP).

EPA recommends that people follow EPA’s health advice for specific sites.

Read next

About PFAS

PFAS in the environment

PFAS and health

PFAS and waste

PFAS use in Australia

PFAS National Environmental Management Plan (NEMP)

Future plans for regulating PFAS: PFAS NEMP 2.0

Reviewed 24 August 2020