At GPC, we love our local area. Our region is one of the most beautiful in Australia, and we take pride in the landscape and natural environment. We aim to manage our land responsibly to ensure no environmental legacy risks for future generations. This is done by understanding if contamination has occurred from previous land uses (e.g oil Spills, PFAS) or exposure of acid sulfate soils in low-lying coastal land. This is coupled with prevention of any further contamination sources by environmentally sound management and soil / activity monitoring for project works.
In 2016, the Queensland Government introduced a policy phasing out the use of firefighting foams containing per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS. The policy came into effect in July 2019. Under the Environmental Protection Regulation 2019 (Qld), PFAS is considered to be a regulated waste.
Testing for PFAS
GPC undertook and completed voluntary preliminary and validation groundwater testing at its three ports – Rockhampton, Gladstone and Bundaberg. Some elevated concentrations of PFAS were detected on Port Land at Port Central (Gladstone) and the Port of Bundaberg. The levels were evaluated according to the Department of Health’s Recreational Water Guidelines (Commonwealth). There have been no exceedances of the national guidelines at the Port of Rockhampton.
In response to the groundwater results, GPC initiated a broader scope of sampling including a pilot seafood sampling program in Ship Creek at Port Central. GPC undertook the sampling in accordance with the Queensland Health: Guideline for sampling and analysis of seafood suitable for human health risk assessments of PFAS contamination. Results from the preliminary sampling show traces of PFAS above the Food Standards Australia New Zealand trigger points for investigation in fish caught at one location in Ship Creek. These results were submitted to the Queensland Department of Health and the Department of Environment and Science.
GPC has now completed its voluntary preliminary and validation groundwater testing, and seafood sampling where relevant at its three ports.
Any future investigations will now be led by the Queensland Department of Health, and the Department of Environment and Science. For further information please contact www.qld.gpv.au/PFAS or 1300 130 372.
We wish to assure residents that these results do not relate to water connected to town supplies, which are used by Gladstone and Bundaberg residents for drinking. No groundwater at the Ports is used for human consumption.
Based on the pilot sampling results, Queensland Health advises:
- The public should avoid consuming fish from Ship Creek. However, infrequent consumption (every few months) of a meal of seafood (75 grams for children up to six years and 150 grams for the rest of the population) from the creek should not present a health risk.
- Fish is an important part of a healthy diet. The public are reminded that consumption of most species of fish from other areas should be limited to 2 to 3 serves per week in line with advice on mercury in fish published by Food Standards Australia New Zealand.
- Anyone concerned about their health should speak with their doctor or call 13HEALTH (13 43 25 84).
- GPC has installed information signs along Ship Creek advising of the potential contamination of PFAS (see copy of sign below)