Oct 11 2023: PFAS found in Groundwater, Melrose Park, Adelaide (SA)

Alarm for residents as ‘forever chemicals’ found in SA

Jacob ShteymanAAP

People living in suburban Adelaide are being warned not to use groundwater after aquifers were found to be contaminated with toxic chemicals.

Per- and polyfluorinated substances (PFAS) – often referred to as “forever chemicals” because they are very slow to break down and accumulate in human bodies – have been found in Melrose Park in the city’s south, the SA Environment Protection Authority (EPA) advised on Wednesday.

It proposed establishing a groundwater prohibition area (GPA) in parts of the suburb, banning residents from taking groundwater to a depth of 49 metres below ground.

The ban is necessary to prevent potential harm to human health and safety, EPA Director of Policy, Assessment and Finance Kathryn Bellette said in a statement.

“The purpose of establishing GPAs is to stop current and future landholders from accessing contaminated groundwater,” Ms Bellette said.

“Rainwater and mains water (tap water) are not affected by the groundwater contamination and can be used.”

PFAS were commonly used in firefighting foams but began being phased out in 2004 after their damaging effects on human health were discovered.

The EPA will hear submissions from the public on the proposed GPA until November 20.