Alcoa pipeline a ‘real’ chance of leaking toxic chemicals into drinking water dam, says WA environment regulator


WA’s environmental regulator says there is a “real and not remote” possibility a pipeline built by a mining company could leak toxic chemicals into a drinking water dam in Western Australia’s South-West.

In a ‘prevention notice’ issued on Thursday, WA’s Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) said Alcoa had built the pipe as part of a PFAS treatment plant at its Willowdale bauxite mine, about 130 kilometres south of Perth.

Per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, has been used for firefighting, but have been described as toxic “forever chemicals”, which do not break down and can accumulate in soil, water and human bodies.

The federal government recommends minimising exposure to PFAS while further research into its effects are investigated.

DWER alleged the pipeline over the Samson drinking water supply dam was constructed despite an application for it to be built still being assessed by the department.

It also said the pipe was in contravention of its Public Drinking Water Supply Protection Policy and did not meet standards “to prevent the release of PFAS to soil, groundwater or surface waters”.

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ABC News, 03-03-23