On 23 September 2022, the Australian and New Zealand Heads of Environment Protection Authorities released the draft PFAS NEMP 3.0 for public consultation with submissions due by 4pm on 20 December 2022.

Snapshot 

  • The draft PFAS NEMP 3.0 builds on PFAS NEMP 2.0 and provides new and updated guidance across six key underlying priority areas – the PFAS family, environmental data and monitoring, water, including beneficial reuse of biosolids, soil, resource recovery products and waste and site-specific guidance, including in relation to approaches to remediation.
  • The ecological water quality guideline values which were expected to be revised as a result of the work undertaken nationally to better understand the impacts of PFAS compounds since the release of PFAS NEMP 2.0, have remained the same.

Key changes

While PFAS NEMP 3.0 makes various amendments to PFAS NEMP 2.0, the most significant relate to: PFAS monitoring; PFAS environmental guideline values; On-site stockpiling, storage and containment; Reuse of PFAS-contaminated materials including soils and water; PFAS Remediation and Management; PFAS disposal to landfill; PFAS in the wastewater treatment system; PFAS sampling; and PFAS analysis.

PFAS Monitoring
Additional environmental monitoring parameters are recommended for ambient monitoring plans, such as point sources. Further, a consistent but adaptable approach used in setting land use categories in ambient programs to enable PFAS concentrations to be compared across land use and jurisdictions and provides multiple case studies on ambient environmental monitoring.

PFAS environmental guideline values
Specific reference is made to the National Environment Protection (Assessment of Site Contamination) Measure, the National Water Quality Management Strategy (Australian Government 2018) (including the Water Quality Guidelines) as relevant guidance to inform the selection of guideline values.

Further, amendments have been made to the ecological guideline values for soil and biota values with sediment quality guidance introduced and relevant considerations for bioaccumulation clarified.

Information on alternative approaches to the risk assessment and environmental management of PFAS Compounds and Mixtures has also been included.

On-site stockpiling, storage and containment
The capacity of containment bunding is prescribed unless otherwise required by the relevant regulators for PFAS-contaminated material storage.

Reuse of PFAS-contaminated materials including soils and water
Guidance on organic waste and resource recovery materials has been introduced, particularly in relation to PFAS occurrence in organic waste materials and the management of risks associated with PFAS in resource recovery products. The draft also includes a hierarchy of levels of assessment required for specific organic waste types with respect to potential PFAS content.

Additional guidance is provided on the management of PFAS-contaminated construction water.

PFAS Remediation and Management
PFAS Version 3.0 reformulates PFAS Remediation and Management considering the context of Australia’s international obligations, Australian jurisdictional requirements, the site remediation triggers, considerations in setting remediation goals and objectives, the selection of remediation strategies and options, preferred remediation hierarchy and treatment options and establishing remediation success and long-term management strategies.

PFAS disposal to landfill
Additional guidance has been incorporated on relevant considerations when monitoring disposal to landfill.

PFAS in the wastewater treatment system
PFAS NEMP 3.0 introduces a PFAS criteria for biosolids. It includes information regarding the characterization of biosolids, details on proposed land application and characterization of in-situ soils and the relevant criteria and maximum allowable soil contaminant concentrations, among others.

PFAS sampling
General guidance on sampling environmental media and materials has been introduced, providing reference to relevant NEMP sections and establishes specific assessment criteria for assessing PFAS leachability.

PFAS analysis
Guidance on the analysis of PFAS in solid organic waste and resource recovery materials, including information on quality control and quality assurance, interferences and the measurement of ‘total PFAS’ in solid organic wastes has been clarified.

Next Steps
Submissions close at 4pm on 20 December 2022 and can be submitted here – National Environmental Management Plan on PFAS | Have Your Say – Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

By Madeline Simpson, Special Counsel and Charlotte Traves, Paralegal. 

Madeline Simpson
Madeline Simpson
Special Counsel, Brisbane
+61 414 942 276
Peter Briggs
Peter Briggs
Partner, Sydney
+61 409 030 299
Heidi Asten
Heidi Asten
Partner, Melbourne
+61 448 614 545
Kathryn Pacey
Kathryn Pacey
Partner, Brisbane
+61 447 319 055
Melanie Debenham
Melanie Debenham
Partner, Perth
+61 410 486 327