I seek leave to make a brief explanation before directing a question to the Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation regarding contamination.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: As the minister outlined in his statement, the EPA has letterboxed more than 3,000 residents in the suburbs of Hendon, Albert Park, Seaton and Royal Park to alert them that TCE has been found in groundwater and soil vapour, and in particular in a crawl space beneath a childcare centre. My questions to the minister are:
1.When was the minister first informed that there was TCE contamination that may affect a childcare centre?
2.Can the minister guarantee there will be no adverse health consequences of the TCE contamination within the childcare centre?
3.What is the highest reading of TCE found in vapour testing in those four suburbs, and where was that reading located?
4.What is the highest reading of TCE found in groundwater testing in those four suburbs, and where is that reading located?
The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation) ( 14:32 ): I thank the honourable member for her most important question. In relation to my ministerial statement of today, as part of ongoing monitoring the EPA has installed five groundwater wells—three in September 2012 and two in May 2013—and one soil vapour well. The results of samples from the soil vapour well, in relation to a site in Hendon, and five groundwater wells on a property, are now available. I can say also that the additional work to confirm soil vapour results is currently being undertaken.
The three assessment reports completed in March 2013, October 2013 and June 2014 are also available on the EPA website for honourable members to look at for themselves. On 16 June 2014 the EPA received a final report from a contamination consultant. I can advise that the EPA liaised with SA Health for comment on proposed communication to the residents. The EPA has kept me apprised of ongoing communication with residents at a number of sites across Adelaide.
In relation to the specific communication, I received a briefing from the EPA on Friday 1 August advising that they would be communicating with residents today. This was following a review of the report received from the site contamination consultant in conjunction with SA Health. Included were the Hendon Environment Protection Authority assessment area, which is a childcare centre, located at corner of West Lakes Boulevard. In March this year the Environment Protection Authority resampled an existing soil vapour well first sampled, I am advised, in June 2013, which was installed in the car park of a childcare centre.
The EPA also undertook sampling of the crawl space and beneath the concrete slab of the childcare centre building. The initial results from March 2014 identified the presence of TCE in the crawl space of the childcare centre at a concentration of 26 micrograms per cubic metre. The March 2014 findings prompted additional assessment works, where multiple samples were taken from the crawl space and indoor air using two different sampling methods. For those interested in sampling methods, it involved canister sampling or a sampling method called Radiello. These additional assessment works were undertaken on 12 August 2014.
The Hon. D.W. Ridgway interjecting:
The Hon. I.K. HUNTER: It was 12 April 2014, sorry. Following these works, TCE was detected in both the crawl space and indoor air at a childcare centre where multiple samples were taken from the crawl space and indoor air, with concentrations ranging between 3½ and 11 micrograms per cubic metre in the crawl space and 0.74 to 1.3 micrograms per cubic metre in indoor air. The National Environment Protection (Assessment of Site Contamination) Measure 1999 provides an indoor air investigator level for TCE of two micrograms per cubic metre for sensitive land uses, and the EPA and Department for Health and Ageing support this investigation level, of course.
Whilst TCE has been detected in the crawl space and indoor air of the childcare centre, it has not been detected at concentrations above two micrograms per cubic metre in the indoor air of the childcare centre. The EPA and Department for Health consider that there is currently no evidence of risk to health for the continued use of the site as a childcare centre. It will be necessary to continue to monitor the concentrations of TCE to ensure that this situation does not change into the future.
I am advised that on 10 July 2014 the EPA met with the owners of the childcare centre and provided an update on assessment works. Further assessment works to determine whether TCE is coming from contaminated groundwater underlying the building, or from another pathway, commenced on 26 July this year. The EPA will inform the owner of the childcare centre and the parents once the results are available.
In the meantime, the EPA will be holding an open house style meeting for parents and caregivers of children who attend the childcare centre on Monday 11 August from 6pm to 8.30pm. This session will give the parents the opportunity to speak directly with the EPA staff about the testing that has been done and testing that will be done into the future and the results to date.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK ( 14:37 ): Can the minister advise what the highest readings of TCE were in groundwater and at what location? Do I take it from his response that parents have at this stage not been advised?
The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation) ( 14:37 ): The levels of the groundwater contamination I don't presently have with me, but they are of course going up on the EPA website and will be publicly available, and I believe that they were probably in the documentation I gave the honourable member in her briefing yesterday.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: A further supplementary.
The PRESIDENT: The Hon. Ms Lensink.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK ( 14:37 ): Is the minister saying that the parents have not been advised at this point?
The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation) ( 14:37 ): My advice is that the parents have been advised all the way through this process. They will be advised in the normal course of action. As I said, they already have contacted the childcare centre, and parents will be invited to a further information seminar where they can have face-to-face meetings with EPA staff to answer any questions they might have.