MPs respond to investigation into elevated levels of PFAS at Kurnell and Botany Bay near the Airport

Samples taken at the former Caltex refinery at Kurnell have found the presence both on and offsite of toxins with a suspected link to cancer cases in Australia and overseas.

A Fairfax Media investigation revealed on Monday the former refinery, along with Botany Bay near Sydney Airport, are among 25 sites in NSW where authorities are investigating elevated levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl chemicals (PFAS).

Holsworthy Army Barracks is among seven military bases in the state being investigated.

Rockdale MP Steve Kamper said the chemicals that had contaminated Cooks River and Botany Bay appeared to be dangerous .

“We need a proper assessment and clean up as soon as possible,” he said.

“The Government has known for months that the levels of these chemicals in our waterways are unacceptable – they need to take action.”

Cronulla MP Mark Speakman, who was NSW Environment Minister before becoming Attorney-General, said the Environment Protection Authority announced in June last year an investigation at the Kurnell site stemming from the historical use of fire-fighting foams.

This was part of a state-wide PFAS investigation program, he said.

“Preliminary sampling undertaken at the site showed the presence of PFAS both on and offsite,” he said. 

“Residents are connected to town water, which is safe to use in the home, but further testing will help to determine any exposure pathways.”

Mr Speakman said the office of Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton had further advised:

“Caltex continues to undertake further investigations both onsite and offsite to understand the extent of PFAS in Quibray Bay.

“Caltex has also recently completed a targeted program of groundwater sampling in the Kurnell residential area. The EPA is currently reviewing the sampling results.

“Caltex has developed an action plan to assess and remediate impacted areas. A community communication strategy has also been prepared in consultation with the EPA.

“The EPA investigation has progressed to focus on the local community and whether any residents are using groundwater for domestic activities. This is to identify if there are any exposure pathways for residents.

“On March 23, this year, the EPA doorknocked several properties in the Kurnell community to discuss their water usage and to provide precautionary advice if necessary. 

“This discussion also included the wider Botany Bay dietary advice for fishers during these doorknocks.

“The EPA is expecting the next round of results from the Caltex sampling in October, 2018.”

Updated fact sheet:

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