Bunbury site contaminated with PFAS

Bunbury’s former Career Fire and Rescue Service site on Forrest Avenue has been listed as one of many across the state contaminated with perfluorooctane sulfonate, also known as PFAS. 

According to the Additional PFAS-impacted sites regulated under the Contaminated Sites Act 2003 there are a further 23 contaminated sites in WA.

PFAS is a class of harmful chemicals found in products that reduce heat, stains, grease and water.

A Department of Water and Environmental Regulation spokesperson said the PFAS detected at the Bunbury site was in two primary soil samples and one surface water sample collected during a preliminary site investigation.

“The low levels found to date are sufficient to trigger further investigation of the site but do not immediately suggest contamination may have spread beyond the property boundary,” they said. 

“Further investigations commissioned by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services are expected to include more soil testing and also assess groundwater quality and groundwater use in the area.

“The WA Department of Water and Environmental Regulation works with other agencies, and owners of sites where firefighting foam was used in significant quantities, to administer and enforce the Contaminated Sites Act 2003.”

South West MLC Dr Steve Thomas said more information was needed on the immediate soil impacts from groundwater, which was a significant concern.

Dr Thomas said he expected more contaminated sites across WA would be found and the government would have no choice but to come up with a statewide strategy.

US environmental advocate Erin Brockovich has also thrown her weight behind the fight against the contamination of groundwater throughout Australia by toxic PFAS chemicals.

“It is extremely disturbing to me that this is happening throughout the entire country, the conversation is starting to happen here in Australia and it needs to be had,” she said

“There is the potential for an emerging national crisis, this is a dangerous chemical. Governments and companies have known or been warned for many years to keep an eye out for this.

“Once it is in the environment it is extraordinarily difficult to remove.”