EPA’s pollution concerns at former Bradmill and National Textile site
March 31 2019
RUTHERFORD’S light industrial estate is embroiled in another pollution controversy with a second site identified as potentially leaching toxic firefighting foam chemicals into surrounding waterways.
An Environment Protection Authority (EPA) investigation found the former National Textiles site, now owned by Cleanaway, as potentially responsible for per- and poly-fluoroalkyl [PFAS] chemicals ending up in waterways that run to the Hunter River.
The EPA said the pollution is historic and not linked to Cleanaway’s Kyle St site. National Textiles, formerly Bradmill, was one of the biggest employers in Maitland before collapsing in 2000. Another Kyle Street business, Truegain – also known as Australian Waste Oil Refineries – was forced into liquidation, after it was caught discharging PFAS chemicals, up to nearly 400 times the accepted health risk limit, into the sewer.
The company’s atrocious environmental record included oil and liquid waste dumping into surrounding waterways and properties dating back decades. Investigations revealed PFAS up to 10,000 times the accepted health risk level, in tanks at the refinery. A major cleanup operation is ongoing to treat more than 3 million litres of contaminated PFAS water.
The EPA continued its search for other possible sources of PFAS in the area, after levels more than 50 times the safe drinking water guidelines were found upstream of the former Truegain site. A spokesman said that sampling between the New England Highway and Wollombi Rd identified the former textile mill’s site.
He said Cleanaway “inherited” the pollution problem and was “voluntarily undertaking an investigation to establish the extent of PFAS contamination sources”.
EPA data shows concentrations of the contaminant as high as 4.08 micrograms per litre were found in a stormwater drain about 200m from the former Truegain site in June – 58 times the safe drinking water level and 5.8 times higher than the recommended safe level for recreational use.
An EPA warning to residents not to eat eggs, drink milk or consume meat from animals that had access to Fishery or Wallis creeks remains in place after PFAS chemicals, were found in Stony Creek that runs behind the Truegain site.