EPA Victoria releases new interim position statement on PFAS regulation

30 October 2019

As discussed in our most recent PFAS update on 15 July 2019, Per and Poly-Fluroalkyl Substances (PFAS) have been in the spotlight due to their chemical properties which enable them to move easily through the environment and accumulate. Certain PFAS compounds do not break down naturally, and as a result pose increasing risk to human health and the environment.

On 10 October 2019, EPA Victoria released a new Interim Position statement on the regulation of PFAS.

In summary, EPA Victoria will be:

  • Issuing remedial notices under the Environment Protection Act 1970 to hold landowners and polluters to account for PFAS contamination;
  • Addressing sources of PFAS contamination and managing impacts by working collaboratively with other jurisdictions and agencies;
  • Not restricting any leachate discharges to groundwater on the basis of PFAS content; and
  • Introducing interim criteria for the re-use of PFAS impacted soil by allowing re-use based on a Limit of Reporting (LOR) of 0.004mg/kg.

The above framework is in conformity with the “precautionary” approach to PFAS endorsed in the latest PFAS National Environment Management Plan (NEMP) and the Australian Government health guidelines on PFAS.

How this affects you

The Interim Position statement provides further guidance on how organisations are expected to manage PFAS risk.

Upcoming changes to Victorian environmental protection laws will require organisations, under a general environmental duty, to minimise risks associated with activities that may give rise to a risk to human health, including PFAS. The interim statement provides organisations with a lead time to manage PFAS risk so as to comply with the proposed legislative amendments.

While leachate discharges are not restricted based on PFAS concentration, owners of landfill sites and water treatment bodies should remain vigilant and, where possible, work collaboratively to identify whether specific sites require further investigation based on higher than usual concentrations of PFAS.

Furthermore, it is important for organisations to be familiar with the most recent NEMP and the guidelines to ensure that systems and processes surrounding containment, transport, storage and discharge of PFAS products are in line with these requirements.

If you have any questions or would like further information in relation to PFAS management, please contact Paul Lalich and Andrew Scully.

This article was written by Paul Lalich, Partner, David Vorchheimer, Partner and Andrew Scully, Senior Associate.

Subscribe to HWL Ebsworth Publications and Events

HWL Ebsworth regularly publishes articles and newsletters to keep our clients up to date on the latest legal developments and what this means for your business.

To receive these updates via email, please complete the subscription form and indicate which areas of law you would like to receive information on.

Contact us