Williamtown Contamination Expert Panel

Williamtown Contamination Expert Panel

The Expert Panel will be led by NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer Professor Mary O'Kane and consist of a range of technical experts in contamination and health.  It will also include senior representatives from the Environment Protection Authority (EPA), the Department of Health, the Department of Primary Industries and the Hunter Water Corporation.

The Expert Panel will explore the nature and extent of contamination from fire-fighting foams used historically at Williamtown RAAF base and recommend next steps.

The Panel will provide scientific advice to the EPA and other NSW Government agencies to inform decisions that may need to be made to protect the community and the environment.

The Expert Panel will work in partnership and consult regularly with the Williamtown Contamination Investigation Community Reference Group to ensure the community remains informed and updated and can continue to raise any concerns.

News from the Panel

Expert Panel recommends oyster ban end, further fish testing2 Oct 2015
Statement from the Williamtown Contamination Expert Panel23 Oct 2015
Expert Panel recommends further eight-month ban on fishing while human health risk assessment undertaken27 Oct 2015
Update from the Williamtown Contamination Expert Panel 4 Nov 2015
Williamtown Contamination Panel welcomes voluntary Hunter River prawning ban 26 Nov 2015

Terms of Reference

1. Purpose

The Expert Panel has been established under Division 4 of the Protection of the Environment Administration Act 1991 for the purpose of providing informed scientific advice to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) to assist in developing the NSW Government's response to the Department of Defence in relation to investigations to characterise and manage its offsite contamination from Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) from the Williamtown RAAF Base.
The Expert Panel will also provide advice for NSW agencies to inform decisions they may need to make to protect the community and the environment in relation to matters such as the harvesting of oysters, fish and other agricultural products and the use of ground and surface water in areas potentially affected by the offsite contamination.

2. Functions and Role of the Expert Panel

The functions of the Expert Panel are to:
1. Assess available information on contamination from the Williamtown RAAF Base and advise agencies on factors influencing the retention of the temporary measures already in place and the need for any additional measures to manage potential risks, including to recreational and commercial fishing, oyster harvesting, bore water usage and agricultural activities.
2. Provide advice to the EPA on whether and what additional investigations or studies are needed to be undertaken by the Department of Defence and their consultants, to assist in refining risk assessment and management measures related to the PFOS and PFOA contamination originating from the Williamtown RAAF Base.
3. Review and provide advice on proposed remediation strategies to be undertaken by the Department of Defence to address migration of contamination from the Williamtown RAAF Base and advice on the need for further investigations and/or long-term monitoring, and reporting mechanisms for the data and information from these activities.
4. Provide a source of informed expert advice to the EPA and through them to the Department of Defence on guidance to the local community and relevant stakeholders. The Expert Panel will operate for 12 months from the date of its formation. The term of the Expert Panel can be extended by the EPA Chair and CEO if required.

The Panel has been extended until 30 June 2017.

Contacting the Panel

To provide feedback to the Panel, please send an email to williamtown.panel@chiefscientist.nsw.gov.au

Further Information

Who should I call if I have concerns?

For more information please contact:

  • NSW Department of Defence call 1800 011 443
  • NSW Environment Line on 131 555
  • For specific health inquiries call 1300 066 055
  • For information on Fisheries closures call 4982 1232
  • NSW Food Authority Helpline call 1300 552 406