The NSW PFAS Taskforce has analysed the results from an initial study into some species of fish in the Tuggerah Lakes system.
It has determined that the community does not need to limit consumption of the breeds of fish sampled to reduce their exposure.
An updated fact sheet is also available on the EPA’s PFAS Investigation Program web page.
It repeats that PFAS has been found onsite and at the end of the canals from Colongra and Munmorah power stations.
It states that residents and fishers can continue to fish in the Tuggerah Lakes, but should consider the general advice to consume no more than two to three serves of seafood a week, as part of a balanced diet.
Over the last nine months, as part of PFAS investigations in the area, Snowy Hydro Limited has been sampling Sea Mullet, Yellowfin Bream, Dusky Flathead, Luderick and Silver Biddy, to determine if precautionary dietary advice should be issued to the community.
Due to the change in seasons and limited availability of fish and prawns, further sampling is being undertaken on school prawns, eastern king prawns and whiting, and the EPA will update the community as more information comes to hand.
The EPA also encouraged community members to note the fishing bans already in place in the canals near the Munmorah and Colongra Power Stations.
“The NSW Government has advised that local commercial fishers can continue to sell fish harvested in the lakes.
“It’s important to remember that no fishing within the power station’s canals or water systems is permitted,” the EPA’s PFAS Investigation Program web page for Colongra and Munmorah Power Station said.
“A pre-existing ban on net fishing in Budgewoi Creek, and the seasonal night time ban on fishing in the Munmorah Power House outlet canal or Budgewoi Lake, is not related to PFAS.
“These are long-standing closures unrelated to PFAS investigations currently underway.
“The Australian Government’s PFAS Expert Health Panel, in its report to the Federal Minister for Health, noted that there is no current evidence to suggest an increase in overall health risk related to PFAS exposure.
However, the Expert Panel also said that health effects cannot be ruled out at this time.
Because the risks are not fully known, the NSW Government takes a precautionary approach to limiting people’s exposure to PFAS.
The update from the EPA coincided with the release of the Federal Parliamentary Inquiry Report into PFAS contamination around the country.
President of the Coalition Against PFAS, Lindsay Clout, in responding to the report, said: “International studies have highlighted increased risks of cancer and other major diseases from exposure.
“In Australia, impacted communities have received conflicting levels of advice, but some are warned not to drink water or eat food from their land due to health risks.
“Others have been left in the dark.
“The Royal Australasian College of Physicians, in a formal submission to the Government, stated that the current advice in relation to PFAS is ‘likely to be confusing for the public’ and that ‘we advocate for a change to the national health advice that incorporates the latest international evidence for adverse human health effects’.
“More than 170 countries have signed a treaty which ban PFAS related chemicals.
“Australia refuses to.”
Gary Blaschke, from the Northern Lakes Disability Tourism Precinct Committee, said the community had been waiting 16 months for any results.
“I find it amazing that only a few weeks ago, the Newcastle EPA office did not have results, due to the lack of fish and prawns being caught in the lake,” Blaschke said.
“Now, amazingly, they have been able to catch and sample Sea Mullet, Yellowfin Bream, Dusky Flathead, Luderick and Silver Biddy,” he said.
“They must’ve all come to the lakes together for their summer break.
“What they have is an interim report with no crustaceans, and fishing bans still in place near canals near the Munmorah and Colongra Bay Power stations.
“If the estuaries have bans on them, due to contamination, and we happen to have a rain period, does this not cause them concerns with the contamination flowing into the lakes?
“Before the lakes can be declared safe, I would need to see all the information, including if the fish were caught in the Tuggerah Lakes system, near The Entrance, or at the headwaters of the system in Lake Munmorah or Colongra Bay,” he said.
Wyong Regional Chronical has asked the EPA for details on where and when the fish were caught.
Media release, Dec 5
Katie Ritchie, EPA
Website, Dec 10
PFAS Investigation Program, Munmorah and Colongra Power Stations
Media release, Dec 3
Lindsay Clout, Coalition Against PFAS
Media statement, Dec 10
Gary Blaschke, Northern Lakes Disability Tourism Precinct Committee
Jackie Pearson, journalist