In June 2017, the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Chair and CEO wrote to the NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer, then Professor Mary O'Kane AC, requesting that the Williamtown Contamination Expert Panel be transitioned to the NSW PFAS Expert Panel to provide ongoing high level advice on PFAS-related matters.
As with the previous Williamtown Contamination Expert Panel, the NSW PFAS Expert Panel (the Expert Panel) is led by the NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer and is comprised of a range of technical experts in contamination and health. It also includes senior representatives from the EPA, NSW Health, the NSW Department of Primary Industries and the Hunter Water Corporation.
The Expert Panel is called upon as necessary to provide scientific advice to the EPA and other NSW Government agencies on how to manage contaminated sites across New South Wales.
The Expert Panel works in partnership and consult regularly with stakeholders to ensure affected communities remain informed and updated.
The Expert Panel was 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 in relation to investigations to assess and manage contamination by per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) on sites across Australia.
The Expert Panel also provides advice for NSW agencies to inform decisions required to protect the community and the environment in relation to matters such as the consumption of potentially PFAS-contaminated water and/or produce, and the use of ground and surface water in areas potentially affected by offsite contamination.
The functions of the Expert Panel are to:
1. Assess available information on PFAS contamination from identified sites 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 bore water usage, recreational and commercial fishing and agricultural activities.
2. Provide advice to the EPA on whether and what additional investigations or studies are needed to be undertaken by identified polluters and their consultants, to assist in refining risk assessment and management measures related to PFAS contamination.
3. Review and provide advice on proposed remediation strategies to address migration of contamination, the need for further investigations and/or long-term monitoring, and reporting mechanisms for the data and information obtained from these activities.
4. Provide a source of informed expert advice to the EPA on guidance, communication and engagement with the local community and relevant stakeholders.
5. Review and advise on a PFAS National Management Framework in relation to NSW processes and in accordance with requests or guidance as requested by the Prime Minister & Cabinet PFAS Taskforce.
The Expert Panel operates for a 12-month term. The EPA Chair and CEO reviews this term on an annual basis and renews it if required.
The Expert Panel has been extended until 30 June 2019.