2017 – St. Columbia’s Catholic College Springwood (New South Wales) – PFAS

Springwood, St Columba’s Catholic College

The NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) and St Columba’s Catholic College has investigated the presence of per-and-poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination stemming from the historical use of fire-fighting foams for fire training exercises on the grotto field (top oval) and old squash courts.

Investigations found PFAS in sediment and groundwater. The detection of PFAS is not unexpected due to the historical use of PFAS-containing fire-fighting foams at the site. PFAS has also been used in many domestic and industrial products and background levels may be present from these other sources.

Students, parents and teachers do not need to take any additional precautions to limit their exposure to PFAS. It is unlikely that students, parents and teachers have had significant contact with PFAS because

  • The College is connected to reticulated water (town water) and does not use surface, ground or bore water
  • The top oval has only been used by the College for a total of two hours per week for general sporting activities such as soccer and softball since 2014. It has not been used since school resumed in 2018.

PFAS investigations at St Columba’s College have now concluded.

As a precaution, RFS removed a 10 x 10 m section of shallow soil from one area of the grotto field. The excavated soil was sent to landfill, in accordance with the NSW Environment Protection Authority’s (EPA) waste classification guidelines and replaced with excavated natural material. Seed was sown to return grass to the area.