Hunter Water has suspended the Australian Waste Oil Refineries’ licence to discharge trade waste after perfluorinated compounds (PFOS/PFOA) were found in wastewater discharge.
The detection of PFOS/ PFOA relates to Hunter Water’s wastewater and sewage systems, and does not affect Hunter Water’s drinking water supply.
A Hunter Water employee identified a potential trade waste breach during an inspection in February 2016 at the Rutherford site.
This led to the collection of several wastewater samples from the site, as well as from the downstream sewage system.
Hunter Water received test results showing positive detections for PFOS and PFOA in all samples, including from the Farley Wastewater Treatment Plant discharge point at Fishery Creek.
The Australian Waste Oil Refineries (AWOR) wastewater sample showed 116ug/L of PFOS and 1.14ug/L of PFOA, while the Farley Wastewater Treatment Works discharge point sample showed 1.48ug/L of PFOS and 0.13ug/L of PFOA.
Hunter Water has advised the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) of the test results and met with AWOR to advise its sewage service were temporarily suspended until it could comply with its trade waste agreement and demonstrate controls to keep PFOS/PFOA from entering the sewage system.
This action is a first for Hunter Water and reflects the seriousness of the non-compliance.
Hunter Water has requested a large amount of information from the owners of AWOR, including the location and identity of the organisation that supplied for the PFOS/PFOA contaminated waste.
Hunter Water is working with the EPA to investigate the issue.