Callide Power Station at Biloela. The site employs 230 people producing 1510 megawatts.
Callide Power Station at Biloela. The site employs 230 people producing 1510 megawatts.

PFAS chemicals in drinking water of 7 properties near Bilo

Drinking water samples from seven properties near the Callide Power Station have returned PFAS chemical results above government guidelines, CS Energy has announced.

The results come after the power station operator launched extensive testing surrounding its facility near Biloela following positive PFAS detections in February.

A CS Energy spokeswoman said samples were collected from 21 landholders' properties in the area downstream of the power station along Callide Creek to just past the Linkes Road creek crossing.

"Seven landholders had at least one sample point over drinking water guidelines, with four of those landholders using it for drinking water.

"CS Energy has organised an alternative drinking water supply for these four landholders.

"The remaining 14 landholder properties returned results under the drinking water guidelines."

PFAS chemicals are found in common products such as non-stick cooking pans, fabric, furniture, food packaging and firefighting foams.

The Federal Health Department states PFAS chemicals were developed in the 1950s to make products that resist heat, stains, grease and water.

"The release of PFAS into the environment is an emerging concern, because these chemicals are highly persistent, have been shown to be toxic to fish and some animals, and can accumulate in the bodies of fish, animals and people who come into contact with them," the Federal Health Department states.

"There is currently no consistent evidence that exposure to PFAS causes adverse human health effects."

Banana Shire Council conducted PFAS testing on the Biloela town water supply in February 2021 and it was found to be within drinking water guidelines.

 

Biloela's town water supply was declared safe to drink in February by Banana Shire Council, following the detection of PFAS chemicals in a nearby creek which were in firefighting foams previously used at the Callide Power Station.
Biloela's town water supply was declared safe to drink in February by Banana Shire Council, following the detection of PFAS chemicals in a nearby creek which were in firefighting foams previously used at the Callide Power Station.

To enable thorough and efficient testing of the area, CS Energy has established four geographic testing zones.

Project Manager Brett Smith thanked landholders for providing them with access to their properties in what had been an uncertain time for some.

"Samples were collected from a range of locations on properties," Mr Smith said.

"Our main priority is to quantify current PFAS levels in bores that are used for drinking water and, where appropriate, providing affected landholders with an alternative safe water supply."

Further work is required to better understand the variable nature of the results and the influence of factors such as bore depth, age and volume of use; aquifer connectivity; and interaction between surface water and groundwater.

Mr Smith said testing was still underway for properties in the other sampling zones.

"We will continue to periodically publish maps on CS Energy's website showing indicative PFAS levels for the sampling areas," he said.

"We expect to release the results for zones 2 and 3 by the end of April.

"Our technical experts are also developing a longer term PFAS monitoring and management program in consultation with the Department of Environment and Science."

CS Energy has provided each landholder with their results, including their own laboratory report, relevant advice from Queensland Health and the Department of Environment and Science, and information from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries about using bore water for irrigating crops and for livestock.

A CS Energy spokeswoman said Callide Power Station's use of PFAS over the years was infrequent, and in small quantities for training, testing and emergency response purposes.

"CS Energy removed firefighting foams containing non-compliant levels of PFAS in 2019 as part of a Queensland Government policy to phase out their use," the spokeswoman said.

For more information on the Callide PFAS monitoring program, visit the CS Energy website.

 

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