“AN investigation into PFAS contamination on and around the Richmond RAAF Base has found a ten-square-kilometre plume of the chemical in groundwater.

The PFAS contamination came from the use of legacy firefighting foam at the Base, and this type of foam was phased-out in 2004.

A Department of Defence and AECOM report on the investigation released on Thursday, June 14 identified five sites on the RAAF Base as source areas for the plume.

All major on-site drainage systems were found to contain levels of PFAS above the reporting limit for drinking and detections were also found at locations where surface water discharges from the site, including tributaries to Rickabys Creek and Bakers Lagoon.

Defence hosted a walk-in session for community members at Hawkesbury Central Library, where it explained the findings and what they mean for residents.

Luke McLeod, assistant secretary PFAS Investigation and Management, said there was no evidence of residents using the contaminated groundwater for drinking, and use of groundwater for watering stock and irrigation was found to be limited.

He said over 150 residents were involved in a community water use survey, and none were using bore water as their main source for drinking…

Rickabys Creek and Bakers Lagoon were found to have PFAS levels above guidelines for recreational water use – a guidance designed to cover the incidental ingestion of water during recreational activities like swimming – however Mr McLeod said guidelines were designed to be ‘highly protective’ of human health.

He advised locals using Rickabys Creek and Bakers Lagoon for recreation should ‘take sensible precaution’…

Sampling involved 89 groundwater samples from new and existing groundwater monitoring wells, analysing 49 soil samples, and analysing 37 surface water samples and 36 sediment samples…

The next steps in the investigation will be the Human Risk Assessment (HHRA) and Ecological Risk Assessment (ERA), and PFAS Management Area Plan (PMAP).”

Read the full article by Sarah Falson