PFAS safety framework under discussion

Wednesday, 12 February, 2020

PFAS safety framework under discussion

A safety framework for PFAS (per- and poly-flouroalkyl substances) has been under discussion at the beginning of the new parliamentary year.

On Monday, 10 February, the PFAS Sub-committee of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade posed questions about government action on PFAS in the environment.

The Chair of the PFAS Sub-committee, Dr John McVeigh, noted that the national regulatory framework for environmental management of PFAS is under review.

“With safe levels for PFAS concentrations in soil and water being made more stringent, there will be new obligations for government to focus on its PFAS remediation efforts,” McVeigh said.

Last year the Committee’s first report — tabled out of session on 20 December 2019 — documented Defence’s progress using new cleaning technologies to purge PFAS from soil and water at affected Defence sites around Australia.

At the hearing, representatives from the Environmental Protection Taskforce at the new Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment briefed the Committee on the status of the PFAS National Environmental Management Plan, which is under review, and on other regulatory reforms limiting PFAS exposures.

“Environmental laws covering PFAS are managed at state and territory level. There is a need to ensure that Defence is working to a nationally consistent framework of safety standards and that environmental best practice is followed,” said McVeigh.

The PFAS Sub-committee’s program of review will continue the following week with the Department of Health. Invitations seeking feedback on evidence to date will also be sought during the course of the year.

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