Esso has been served with a Pollution Abatement Notice and Clean Up Notices by the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) with respect to finding PFAS in ground water at Longford Plants.
What is PFAS?
PFAS are a group of chemicals which have been widely used in consumer and industrial products for over 40 years. They have been used in common household products such as 3M “Scotchgard”, cooking implements, wrapping for microwave popcorn and other food products.
PFAS has also been used in firefighting foams and hence its relevance at the Longford Plants where such foams have historically been used. Foams containing PFAS are no longer used at Longford Plants.
Esso has been undertaking environmental investigations to ensure we understand the level and extent of PFAS contamination on and from our property. Esso has engaged an internationally recognised environmental consultancy to undertake the investigative program.
In the course of investigations, PFAS has been found in amounts above government guidelines in some ground water, surface water, soils and sediments. This includes some locations near our fire training ground, heliport and surrounding landholdings.
While there is no immediate concern with respect to these findings, Esso is undertaking a detailed assessment of the results to determine what, if any, further actions may be required.
We are continuing to engage with relevant stakeholders, including neighbours and Government agencies such as the Environment Protection Authority, whilst the investigation continues.
PFAS and Health
Most people will have PFAS chemicals in their body as these compounds have been used in common household and industrial applications for many decades. At present, there is limited evidence about the human health effects of these chemicals. Whilst there have been numerous studies on affects to animals, the link between these studies and human health effects is not clear.
Assessment by Australian and international health authorities indicate there is no conclusive evidence that these chemicals cause any specific illness. Notwithstanding this, it is recommended that human exposure is minimised as a precaution on the basis that these compounds do not readily break down and are retained in the body for long periods.
A community information session was held on 22 May 2017 at Longford Primary School:
In the meantime, there are a number of reputable Government publications on this subject including:
Australian Government Department of Health, Health Based Guidance Values for PFAS (April 2017)
EPA Victoria’s Incoming Water Standards for Aquatic Ecosystem Protection: PFOS and PFOA (Publication 1633, August 2016)