“A Federation University professor says there is no evidence to suggest exposure to PFAS located at Hazelwood Power Station and cooling pond would lead to long-term health problems.

Earlier this week a Fairfax Media investigation revealed 16 sites across the state where elevated levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl chemicals – known as PFAS – had been detected.

Sites in Gippsland included CFA Fulham, the RAAF base at East Sale, Esso Longford and Hazelwood pondage, which was closed earlier in the month due to structural concerns with the dam’s walls.

According to the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, PFAS is a group of manufactured chemicals used since the 1950s in a range of common household products, some industrial processes and in some types of firefighting foam.

Site owner ENGIE has maintained the pondage was not closed due to PFAS concentrations located at the site and said there was no risk to the community following tests which detected low levels of PFAS at the site.

Federation University Carbon Technology Research Centre associate Professor Vince Verheyen said while the ‘absolute value’ of contamination was unknown, there was no ‘conclusive or consistent evidence’ to show exposure led to health problems.

In a statement, ENGIE said concentrations found in the station and cooling pond were below human health guidance values and there was no risk to the community from ‘normal activities’ around the station or pond…

ENGIE said concentrations of PFAS found in soil on the power station site were below soil criteria guidelines for industrial land uses, while concentrations in the cooling pond were reported below drinking water and recreational water guideline values…

‘Here in the Valley the organic structure of brown coal may actually be very good at immobilising PFAS due to its high moisture, surface area and porosity.’ ”

Read the full article by Bryce Eishold