Skip to content
Agriculture Farming Rural, Environment

Will landowners take legal action against water authoities for selling PFAS contaminated biosolids?

Friends of the Earth Australia 2 mins read
Location of TAsWater PFAS detections 2020-2023

Friends of the Earth today released information sourced from a Right to Information (RTI) request to the Tasmanian water authority, TasWater.

The information sought pertained to PFAS testing data from TasWater and was received by Friends of the Earth in December 2023.

The information presented by TasWater was thorough and mainly dealt with PFAS detections at 29 TasWater Sewerage Plants across Tasmania. PFAS was detected in almost all samples.

This raises the question, will sometime in the future, will a buyer of biosolids from TasWater, or water authorities elsewhere in Australia,  take legal action over contamination of farmland where biosolids been used?

"What procedures are currently in place to notify landowners about the PFAS content of the biosolids that they are using? Given that biosolids have been sold for decades, the issue of PFAS accumulation on farmland should not be discounted." Land Use Researcher for Friends of the Earth Anthony Amis asked.

The worst performing sewerage treatment plant according the RTI data was Cambridge Sewerage Treatment Plant located in close proximity to Hobart Airport.

The main findings from the RTI information were:

Approximately 88.5% of all test regimes for sludge/biosolids were positive for at least one PFAS chemical and approximately 55% of test regimes in effluent/influent being positive for at least one PFAS chemical

Almost 2000 individual biosolid/sludge samples tested positive for PFAS.

Only four tests were conducted in a drinking water supply (Hobart) and all were negative.

45% of targeted Trade Waste tests detected PFAS chemicals, sometimes at very high levels.

PFOS was the main PFAS chemical of concern, with by far the highest amounts detected at the Cambridge Sewerage Treatment Plant, located near Hobart Airport. 88% of PFAS detections at Cambridge STP were for PFOS.

76% of all the tested treatment plants would the breach lower end of the proposed National Environment Management Plan (NEMP) guidelines for PFHxS+PFOS for biosolids/sludge. 7% would breach lower end of the NEMP for PFOA.

Cambridge Sewerage Treatment Plant, Ranelagh and St Helens would have exceeded the higher proposed NEMP Guideline of PFHxS + PFOS levels higher than 31μg/kg. Both Cambridge and Blackmans Bay breached the lower end of the scale for PFOA.

The highest PFAS average detections were recorded at Brighton Sewerage Treatment Plant (but from a limited sample size), for Perfluroalkyl Sulfonamides chemicals MeFOSAA, EtFOSAA and MeFOSE.

In April 2020, PFOS was detected at 2,500 times over the 99% ANZECC trigger at Selfs Point Sewerage Treatment Plant, but it is unclear if this testing was conducted in influent, effluent or within the plant itself. Between 2021-2023 however the PFOS averages dropped significantly at Selfs Point to an average of 0.0135μg/L 1.5 times over the ANZECC 99% trigger level.

In 2023 PFHxS in effluent samples at Cambridge STP averaged 0.02125μg/L and the PFOS detections averaged 0.174μg/L, 19 times over the ANZECC 99% trigger level for PFOS.

TasWater information regarding STP influent coming into treatment plants was very limited.

Findings can be found here:

For more information: Anthony Amis 0425841564


More from this category

  • Environment
  • 21/02/2024
  • 07:02
NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA)


The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) investigation into asbestos contaminated mulch has returned two negative results in the past day, and no positives. The total number of positive sites remains at 47. The two negative results are schools: Mount Annan Christian College, Currans Hill Trinity Catholic Primary School, Kemps Creek As of 6pm yesterday, 798 tests have returned negative results since January 10. The EPA expects to receive further results over the coming days. Precautionary testing will be undertaken at three health facilities. These are Macquarie Hospital, Tresillian (Wollstonecraft) and Manly Adolescent and Young Adult Hospice. At risk areas will…

  • Contains:
  • Environment, Transport Automotive
  • 21/02/2024
  • 00:00
Climate Council

Don’t pay double: More efficient new vehicles will lower fuel bills

EMBARGOED 12.01AM WEDNESDAY 21 FEBRUARY 2024 Don’t pay double: More efficient new vehicles will lower fuel bills Aussie drivers could pay up to twice the price for petrol when purchasing a new car compared to international car markets with effective fuel efficiency standards, according to the latest Climate Council analysis. On average, a new passenger car sold today in Australia will consume 6.9 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres (L/100km), leading to an annual petrol bill of almost $1,460. This is nearly $720 more per year than new European cars, which use just 3.5L/100km, and almost $570 more than new…

  • Education Training, Environment
  • 20/02/2024
  • 15:23
UNSW Sydney

MEDIA ALERT: UNSW Nuclear Innovation Centre launch

The UNSW Nuclear Innovation Centre will officially open Thursday 22 February 2024. The Centre has been set up to advance Australia's nuclear industry and skills, including interests in medicine, irradiated materials, waste management, space exploration and mining. The Centre will be especially relevant for Australia’s AUKUS commitments. The Hon. Pat Conroy MP, Minister for Defence Industry, Minister for International Development and the Pacific, will officially launch the Nuclear Innovation Centre. We will also hear from UNSWVice-Chancellor and President Professor Attila Brungs and UNSW Nuclear Innovation Centre Director, Associate Professor Edward Obbard. WHAT: Official opening of the UNSW Nuclear Innovation Centre…

Media Outreach made fast, easy, simple.

Feature your press release on Medianet's News Hub every time your distribute with Medianet. Pay per release or save with a subscription.