2018 June – 10 square km PFAS plume (Rickabys Creek NSW) – PFAS

PFAS chemicals found in waterways near Richmond RAAF base


An investigation into contamination from potentially toxic PFAS chemicals at the Richmond RAAF base in north-west Sydney has found a 10-square-kilometre plume of the chemical in groundwater.

More than 25 surface water test sites were found to have PFAS levels above what is safe to drink, including Rickabys Creek and Bakers Lagoon, while low levels of PFAS were also found in the Hawkesbury River.

All major drainage systems on the base were found to contain levels of PFAS above reporting levels and five sites on the Air Force base were found to be the main sources of the chemicals, which were historically used in firefighting foam.

“People don’t drink the surface water,” assistant secretary of PFAS Investigation and Management Luke McLeod said.

He said they had not found anyone in the area who used bore water as their primary drinking source, but one person does provide bore water for cattle to drink.

“There have been a couple of detections above drinking water guidance but again it’s not been used for drinking water,” he said.

“There is one community member who does water stock with a bore, he sells those cattle into the marketplace.

“What we understand with cattle is when it’s sold into the general marketplace the effect of PFAS is diluted as those cattle are put into the broader supply chain.”

Mr McLeod said there was no need to advise anyone to not use or swim in the water.