2016/21 – Batchelor (Northern Territory) – PFAS

2020/21: Batchelor (NT):

PFHxS+PFOS0.009ug/L (max), 0.007ug/L (av.)

PFAS chemicals linked to fire fighting foams found in Adelaide River, Batchelor


Chemicals linked to fire fighting foams have been detected at low levels in drinking water in Adelaide River and Batchelor, according to the Health Department.

The department’s director of environmental health, Xavier Schobben, said the authority was still waiting for the full report on the chemicals in water supplies, but preliminary tests from the Power and Water Corporation had been conducted.

“It’s not detectable in Alice Springs. There has been a very low level of detection found in Batchelor and the Adelaide River production bores,” Mr Schobben said.

“We are waiting on the final report from Power and Water and then we can provide conclusive evidence and can provide you with public health risk assessments and statements.”

PFAS chemicals are commonly used in a variety of household products such as non-stick cooking pans, waterproof fabric, furniture, cleaning chemicals, food packaging, and in some industrial processes.

Testing began in drinking water last month

For the first time, Power and Water Corporation tested for the PFAS chemicals in public drinking water in mid-October.

PFAS chemicals:

  • Officially known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances
  • They have industrial uses including in fire fighting foams
  • Global concern about the chemicals because they accumulate in wildlife and people
  • Defence testing found PFAS contamination at all NT sites examined
  • People with private bores in the Katherine region have been told to use bottled or town water as a precaution

It took samples in Katherine, Adelaide River, Batchelor, Alice Springs and Darwin regions but is still waiting for the full analysis of what has been found.

On Tuesday night the Health Department advised rural residents with private bores, particularly those near RAAF Base Tindal in Katherine — including pregnant women — to drink bottled water until alternate drinking water could be provided.

“As an additional precaution we are saying drink bottled water, but [contact] Defence to provide you with alternative water supplies until your water can be proved to be clear,” he said.

“Katherine was the most important part because it has got a RAAF Base,” he said.

“RAAF Base Darwin … we’ve had additional tests there but we don’t actually drink the ground water around Darwin.

“We are actually supplied through Darwin River Dam.”

Results of PFAS testing October 2016:

Batchelor From a single Bore (tap water is a blend) 0.0664 µg/L