Hon Stephen Dawson MLC

Hon Stephen Dawson MLC

Minister for Environment; Disability Services; Electoral Affairs

    McGowan Labor Government releases position statement on PFAS

    19/12/2017 2:00 PM
     
    • WA Government committed to ensuring communities have access to timely information on PFAS contamination issues
    • State Government committed to protecting the environment from contaminants  

    The McGowan Labor Government is committed to identifying and managing the presence of environmental contamination from per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in Western Australia.

     

    Environment Minister Stephen Dawson today released the State Government's update on PFAS, outlining work already underway to identify and address the persistent pollutants.

     

    Mr Dawson is leading the WA Government's response to this issue, ensuring that government agencies are working collectively, and in partnership with Commonwealth agencies and other States and Territories, to respond to this challenge.

     

    Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances are fluorine-containing chemicals which have been used since the 1950s in a range of common household products as well as in firefighting foams.

     

    As a result of widespread use, PFAS have been found to be present in low levels in soils, surface water and groundwater in most urban areas around the world, including in Western Australia. 

     

    PFAS can accumulate in the bodies of fish, animals and people and have been shown to be toxic to some fish and animal species. Scientific knowledge of the human effects of PFAS exposure is still evolving.

     

    The State Government, led by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation, has developed an across-government approach to manage the presence of PFAS and is working with the Commonwealth Government and other States and Territories to develop a national best practice approach to the substances.

     

    Other State Government agencies involved in the response to PFAS include the Department of Health; Department of Fire and Emergency Services; Water Corporation; Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions; ChemCentre and the Public Transport Authority.

     

    To date, most of the contaminated sites in Western Australia where PFAS have been found are associated with the use of firefighting foams for training purposes or emergency situations.

     

    For a copy of the WA Government's statement on PFAS, including the current list of confirmed contaminated sites where PFAS have been identified, visit http://www.dwer.wa.gov.au/pfas 

     

    Comments attributed to Environment Minister Stephen Dawson:

     

    "The McGowan Government's primary focus is protecting the environment and work is underway across government to ensure any potential risks to the public are carefully investigated and managed to safeguard all Western Australians.

     

    "WA's environmental regulatory framework is robust and well designed to deal with issues like the emergence of PFAS. Our environmental laws make sure contaminated sites are identified, investigated and, where necessary, cleaned up.

     

    "The McGowan Labor Government is committed to ensuring that communities have access to and timely information on PFAS contamination issues that may affect them.

     

    "Where significant new information on PFAS materially changes the WA Government's position, an updated position statement will be published. Other new information will be provided through regular updates to relevant agency websites."

     

    Minister's office - 6552 5800