Contamination by per-and-poly fluoroalkyl (PFAS) at Butler Street Reserve is being investigated by both the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and Council.
Butler Street Reserve is located on the newly opened bypass, just west of the town’s CBD.
Byron Shire Council staff say the joint investigation began after PFAS was detected in the groundwater beneath Butler Street Reserve and the adjacent Byron Drain (also referred to as Union Drain).
Staff say, ‘PFAS is a group of chemicals that were widely used in some fire-fighting foams and other products including food packaging, non-stick cookware, fabric, furniture, clothing, and shampoo’.
Landfill till 1970s
‘Butler Street Reserve was an unlicensed landfill used by residents and businesses in Byron Bay for the disposal of rubbish until the mid 1970s.
‘The EPA said it was likely that the PFAS contamination was a result of general household rubbish put into the landfill’.
The next phase of investigation involves surveying and sampling water from 11 registered bores in the vicinity of the Butler Street Reserve to determine whether groundwater contamination has moved offsite.
Manager Assets and Major Projects, Phil Warner, said, ‘We know there is contamination of groundwater at Butler Street Reserve, and we now need to understand if there is contamination beyond Butler Street Reserve, and if there is, what that level is’.
‘Council has written to, and where possible, spoken to residents and owners of the 11 properties, advising them we are going to be testing the water in their bores to see if PFAS is present and finding out if, or how, they use that bore water’, Mr Warner said.
‘While the water sampling will be completed at registered bore locations, advice from the Australian Government, supported by the NSW Government, in relation to PFAS is that finding PFAS in the environment does not mean there is a human health risk.
‘If property owners in the vicinity of Butler Street Reserve have unregistered bores on their property which they would like included in the testing regime, they can contact Council at Major Works’.