In late April 2018, results from preliminary testing of groundwater detected elevated levels of Per-and Poly-fluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) around the Port of Townsville. This testing was undertaken as part of a voluntary monitoring program by the Port.
The results do not relate to water connected to town supplies (drinking water).
PFAS are a group of man-made chemicals that have been widely used since the 1950s in household and industrial products that resist heat, oil, stains, grease and water.
The Port area is fully reclaimed land and its origins are in locations where there have been a range of industrial uses over 150 years. Historical activities in the areas of most elevated readings included a coal fired power station, old naval bunker lines, railway operations and former fuel storage facilities.
Queensland Health’s advice to residents on use of bore water generally is that it should not be used for recreation or consumption unless it has been tested and known to be completely safe.
Port of Townsville has provided information to homes in the area and is arranging for the testing of residential bores based on requests from residents.
Port of Townsville is working with independent experts as well as Queensland Government departments on a preliminary site investigation to understand the nature and extent of PFAS both within the port and beyond the port boundary. This will include looking at historical uses of lands in these areas that may be the source of PFAS. This investigation will also examine potential pathways of PFAS into the environment.
This investigation is being undertaken in accordance with the National Environmental Protection Measure (NEPM) framework, will take approximately 8 weeks to complete. The results will be made available to the public.
Further information on PFAS in Queensland is available on the Queensland Government website www.ehp.qld.gov.au