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EPA warns of PFAS contamination in multiple Victorian water sources

The Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has issued warnings against the consumption of poultry and fish from various regions in the state due to elevated levels of PFAS in wetlands and waterways.

In a statement released this week, the EPA warns that high levels of the chemical – a group of man-made substances in common use including in historic firefighting foams – have been detected around Victoria.

“EPA is aware of elevated PFAS levels in locations around the state including at Hazelwood Pondage, Department of Defence locations in East Sale, Wodonga and Hastings, at an industrial site at Esso Longford (also in Gippsland) and various CFA training facilities in Fiskville, Penshurst, Bangholme, Wangaratta, Huntly, Fulham and Longerenong,” EPA stated.

Current monitoring of Victorian waterways for PFAS levels comes in the wake of national PFAS concerns, including many contaminated water sources as a result of past fire fighting operations conducted by the Department of Defence.

While EPA states that there is no consistent evidence that PFAS chemicals are harmful to human health, the authority will continue to work with stakeholders and communities in order to manage the issue.

“Where PFAS is detected at elevated levels, EPA will work with the organisations responsible for the land to identify the most effective way of managing the PFAS with a constant view of maintaining human as well as environmental health,” EPA stated.

“EPA continues to work locally and nationally leading the development of the PFAS National Environmental Management Plan, which will provide State and Federal Governments with the foundations on which to build regulations managing the PFAS issue.”

In the interim the authority advises limited consumption of poultry and fish sourced from some Victorian regions.

“Fish taken from the Hazelwood Pondage and ducks, eels and fish from Heart Morass Wetlands show elevated PFAS levels so EPA is recommending limited consumption of fish from the pondage but to not consume ducks, eels and fish taken from Heart Morass,” EPA stated.

“Those who have eaten duck, eels or fish from Heart Morass or fish from Hazelwood are not considered to be at risk of any adverse health outcomes.”

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