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Tasmanian investigations

​​​​​Hobart Airport

Airservices Australia released the results of a Preliminary Site Investigation (PSI) and a subsequent targeted investigation for PFAS at and around Hobart Airport in October 2018. The targeted sampling focused on PFAS in the drainage from the airport (in and immediately beyond Sinclair Creek). One of the water samples taken from Five Mile Beach near the outlet of Sinclair Creek and samples at ​other locations within Sinclair Creek, were above the 2008 National Health and Medical Research Councils (NHMRC) guideline value for recreational water. However this guideline value has recently been revised to incorporate more realistic exposure scenarios and none of the water samples exceed this new recreational water guideline value. Nevertheless further investigation of the offsite environment is warranted.

The Hobart A​i​rport PSI​ (PDF 17.3MB) and the Targeted PFAS Investigation​ (PDF 6MB) are​​ published on the Airservices Australia website on their National PFAS Management ​Program page along with other relevant information including a fact sheet on Hobart Airport and fi​refighting foam (PDF 40KB).

In addition, the Tasmanian Department of Health (DoH) undertook testing for PFAS in locations potentially used for recreation at Pitt Water and at Seven Mile Beach. A summary document is published on the DoH website. PFAS levels in these water samples were all below the national guideline levels. In all of the samples of shellfish (farmed and wild) taken by both Airservices and DoH, the levels of PFAS were below the laboratory's limit of detection and therefore well below the trigger point value for investigation of foods for human consumption.

PFAS was detected in finfish (flathead and flounder) samples, but at levels below the trigger point value for investigation of foods for human consumption. Hence DoH has advised it is safe to continue to eat fish from Pitt Water in line with general fish and seafood consumption advice and as part of a balanced diet. TasWater has advised that it does not have any drinking water catchments near the Hobart Airport and water from its reticulated system remains safe to drink. ​

Since the release of the Hobart Airport PSI, Airservices has been conducting a research and development project at the Hobart Hot Fire Training Ground. This remediation project treats wastewater generated by the fire fighting training exercises as well as stormwater runoff from the concrete slab. A key target of the project is to reduce each of the reported PFAS compounds to concentrations less than their respective laboratory standard levels of reporting (between 0.01 and 0.1 μg/L depending on the PFAS compound). The project will also assist Airservices in identifying a long term feasible solution for the on-site management of PFAS contamination. Airservices is providing regular progress reports to EPA.

Launceston Airport

Airservices Australia released the results of a Preliminary Site Investigation (PSI) for the presence of PFAS on-site at Launceston Airport. The investigation was conducted to better understand the extent of contamination associated with the legacy use of fire fighting foams at the Airport.

The results confirmed that soil, sediment, surface water and groundwater on the airport site have elevated concentrations of PFAS. The concentrations were higher where PFAS use was concentrated, such as at the Former Fire Training Ground and the Main Fire Station. 

The Launceston Airport PSI  (PDF 47MB) is published on the Airservices Australia website on their National ​PFAS Management ​Program page​ along with other relevant information including a fact sheet on Launceston Airport a​nd fire fighting foam (PDF 123KB).

In addition, Department of Health (DoH) conducted limited off-site testing and analysis of surface waters, confirming that PFAS contamination has occurred in surface water beyond the Airport boundary. However, no significant risk to the public has been identified in that TasWater supplies reticulated public drinking water to the site and surrounding area, and this reticulated supply has been confirmed to be clean and safe for use. DoH also assessed fish caught in the North Esk River for PFAS concentrations; this resulted in precautionary advice to not eat fish (including eels) caught in the North Esk River downstream of Corra Linn Gorge/Bridge. DoH have published a North Esk River Factsheet​ on their website.

General advice is provided by the Department of Health on using rural water supplies.

Airservices is planning to undertake a Detailed Site Investigation (DSI) and a number of actions towards the DSI are being progressed. Meanwhile, sampling and assessment for the DSI is likely to commence in late 2019.

Contaminated Sites Unit
134 Macquarie Street
Hobart TAS 7000
Phone: 03 6165 4599 Fax: 03 6173 0254
Email: Enquiries@epa.tas.gov.au