2018 June – Port Lincoln Viva Energy (South Australia) – PFAS

Port Lincoln depot shows no residential water risk

June 19 2018


An investigation into groundwater contamination at a fuel terminal in Port Lincoln has revealed there is no risk to nearby residents.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has been working with Viva Energy to look into groundwater contamination at the site on London Street after it was first notified of per- and polyfluoroalkyl chemicals (PFAS) on the site in late 2016.

Fairfax Media has reported that the site was one of 90 across Australia being investigated for elevated levels of PFAS, which has been used in firefighting foam and is linked to cancer cases in the United States and Australia.

The authority and Viva Energy have confirmed investigations to date found there was no impact on nearby residential properties.

A Viva Energy spokesperson said while PFAS have been detected in groundwater in the vicinity of the site it was not being extracted for use and the source of the contamination was still being investigated.

“Viva Energy continues to work closely with the SA EPA to assess the impact of any historical groundwater contamination at the Port Lincoln terminal depot.

“We take our environmental responsibilities seriously and proactively conducted the initial monitoring as part of our due-diligence in regard to the use and storage of firefighting foams.”

The authority’s director of regulation Peter Dolan said a voluntary site contamination assessment proposal had been approved with Viva Energy, which required the company to do further assessment to determine the extent of the contamination.

“There have been concerns interstate regarding PFAS where they have been found in groundwater which is used for drinking,” he said.

“However, groundwater is not widely used for drinking in South Australia, so it is not considered a major source of human exposure to PFAS in this state.”

Mr Dolan said South Australia was the first state to ban potentially hazardous fluorinated firefighting foams in January this year.

PFAS contamination was also being investigated at the RAAF base Edinburgh and at Adelaide Airport.

A Fairfax Media investigation revealed that at least 21 children at a US high school battled cancer through while growing up in a city whose water supply was contaminated with PFAS.

Fifty cancer cases over a 15-year period have been reported near the Williamtown air base near Newcastle, which had also been contaminated.