Water around two power stations is contaminated

Munmorah power stationMunmorah power station from the air

PFAS, the chemicals found in ground and surface water around the Williamtown RAAF base, have been detected in soil, surface water and ground water at and around the Colongra and Munmorah power stations.

From P7 The Jacobs report identified some locations at the power station where there were exceedances of the criteria for groundwater (metals and PFOS). The report noted data gaps associated with groundwater contaminant transport flow and migration. NSW EPA took eight months to reply to notification of contamination at the Colongra Power Station. The notification was dated February 10, 2015 and the NSW EPA response was October 27, 2015. In November 2015, following additional correspondence between the EPA and Snowy Hydro, Snowy Hydro advised that final reporting was expected to be completed by May 2016. NSW EPA advised the Contaminated Site review in December 2016 that the information received was under assessment.

Its media release, dated September 5, was the first information released by the EPA regarding Colongra since December. Wyong Regional Chronicle has asked the EPA to provide more information about the testing that has and will be undertaken, and for an indication of how long the EPA has known about contamination at the Munmorah site. A 2014 NSW Auditor General’s report found that the NSW EPA’s prioritisation and assessment of the contamination at Williamtown had been inadequate. When news of the contamination broke in September 2015, temporary bans were placed on local fishing and oyster harvesting.

A community reference group was established to address community concerns related to the detection of the substances in surface water, groundwater and biota. By October 2015, the Williamtown Contamination Expert Panel had discussed the need for a comprehensive human health risk assessment, and extensive sampling and testing of water, seafood, meat, fruit, vegetables, dairy, eggs, honey and other products, and fishing was banned for a further eight months while the human assessment was undertaken. Parliamentary Secretary for the Central Coast, Mr Scot MacDonald, has been involved in the Williamtown case from its outset. He said the residential areas around Williamtown had no reticulated town water supply and were reliant on spear groundwater for their residential needs, which had resulted in a very direct contamination pathway. The Williamtown ground water contamination is extensive and never likely to be fully remediated. Subsequently property values and business values in the area have suffered significantly. Mr MacDonald said he was receiving a briefing from the EPA on Tuesday, September 19, regarding the Colongra and Munmorah sites.

Source: Media release, Sep 5 Holly Love, NSW EPA Reports and releases, 2015-17 Williamtown Independent Review, NSW EPA Interview, Sep 8 Scot MacDonald, Parliamentary Secretary for the Central Coast Interview, Sep 8 Yasmin Catley, Member for Swansea Media statement, Sep 8 Central Coast Council media Jackie Pearson, journalist