Esso was served with a Pollution Abatement Notice and Clean Up Notice 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 are 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 extent of PFAS contamination. 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 (owned by Esso/BHP Billiton).
While there is no immediate concern with respect to these findings, Esso will be undertaking a detailed assessment of the results to determine what, if any, further actions may be required.
We are in regular communication with relevant government authorities, including the Environment Protection Authority, who are overseeing our work program.
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 will be scheduled to occur in the coming months. The session will be advertised in the local paper and we will provide more information on our website about the session closer to the date. FAQs are available here:
In the meantime, there are a number of reputable Government publications on this subject including:
EPA Victoria’s Incoming Water Standards for Aquatic Ecosystem Protection: PFOS and PFOA (Publication 1633, August 2016)
enHealth Guidance Statement on per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances - Environmental Health Standing Committee (enHealth) of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (June 2016)