Hendon industrial area
The EPA has been assessing groundwater and soil vapour in Hendon for historically used chemicals including trichloroethene (TCE), since September 2012.
The most recent stage of the assessment program has concentrated on finding the boundaries of the groundwater and soil vapour plumes. Only minor concentrations of TCE have been found at the boundaries and no testing is currently planned in private homes.
In two specific areas, properties with basements should be ventilated if occupied – please see the latest map below for further information.
The EPA is undertaking further work to determine the necessary size of a future groundwater prohibition area, which will prevent the extraction of groundwater in this area via a bore.
In the meantime, the EPA asks residents to please not use bore water in this area for any purpose. Mains water and water from rainwater tanks are not affected. Home grown fruit and vegetables are safe to consume, provided they are not watered with bore water.
The EPA wrote to residents and property owners in December 2015 to advise them of the outcomes of environmental assessment works in the area. Since December 2014, two assessment programs have been undertaken as part of ongoing investigations into historic site contamination originating from the Hendon industrial precinct at the corner of West Lakes Boulevard and Tapleys Hill Road.
The purpose of these assessment programs was to help the EPA better understand the nature and extent of potential offsite contamination in the groundwater and soil vapour to the north, west and south of the Hendon industrial precinct.
Works to the north of the industrial area are being managed by a third party which previously conducted activities that may have caused contamination in the area. The EPA oversaw all elements of this work, including communication with residents and property owners.
An EPA accredited site contamination auditor was engaged by a third party to independently and objectively examine and review the accuracy and completeness of the assessment and to complete a site contamination audit report.
The works concluded that:
- A number of industrial chemicals were present in groundwater and soil vapour within the Hendon assessment area, including trichloroethene (TCE) and tetrachloroethene (PCE). Soil vapour is the gas that forms when chemicals in the soil and groundwater evaporate, and has the potential to migrate into homes.
- There is no health risk to occupants of residential properties that do not have a basement.
- Further work was required to better understand how soil vapour may affect homes with basements or cellars, as below ground structures are closer to potential sources of TCE (such as groundwater).
Residents and property owners in parts of Hendon/Albert Park/Seaton/Royal Park were first advised by the EPA in May 2012 not to use bore water (underground water) for any purpose until further notice to ensure that direct contact with contaminated groundwater does not occur. This advice is still current.
Initial investigations, comprising groundwater and soil vapour testing, were undertaken by consultants engaged by the EPA. The results of this initial investigation (March 2013) identified the need for further work. An update of the May 2013 results from the first stage of testing was provided to local residents in May 2013.
A second round of groundwater and soil vapour testing was then carried out by a consultant for the EPA between June and July 2013. In December 2013, the EPA advised approximately 3,000 property owners and occupiers in parts of Hendon/Albert Park/Seaton/Royal Park through a letterbox-drop, that the EPA had received a second environmental assessment report for further groundwater and soil vapour testing undertaken around the Hendon industrial area in June and July 2013.
The EPA letter informed residents that a third round of testing would be undertaken, commencing in January 2014, to determine if the chemical substances present a risk and to establish more detail about the nature and extent of any risk. This testing has now been completed.
The results of the testing has identified that there are chemical substances present [including trichloroethene (TCE), perchloroethene or tetrachloroethene (PCE), dichloroethene (DCE) and metals] in groundwater in the assessment area.
These chemical substances have the potential to change from liquid to gas (volatilise) and more through the pore spaces in the soil as soil vapour to the ground surface. These chemicals have also been detected in soil vapour in the assessment area. In vapour form, these chemicals can further migrate through crack /pores in concrete building slabs or crawl spaces beneath a building and build up in confined spaces such as cellars, houses and basement car parks.
The June 2014 report indicated that the health risks associated with indoor vapour intrusion are currently considered acceptable. The EPA will continue to advise and keep local residents informed of the outcomes of the assessment in this area. The use of mains water and rain water is unaffected.
The EPA held community information sessions for residents who would like to know more about the results of the recent investigations in parts of Hendon/Albert Park/Royal Park/ Seaton. The information sessions gave residents the opportunity to meet with EPA officers for one-on-one discussions. Community information sessions were held in mid-August 2014.
- April 2016 | Report | Appendices (on request)
- July 2015 | Report | Figures | Appendices
- June 2015 | Report | Tables & Figures | Appendices
- May 2015 | Vapour Monitoring Event at Laugh'n'Learn Child Care Centre
- April 2015 | Vapour Monitoring Event at Laugh'n'Learn Child Care Centre
- March 2015 | Report
- February 2015 | Report
- July 2014 | Report | Appendix A1, A2 | Appendix B | Appendices C, D | Appendices E, F | Appendix G | Appendix H | Appendix I to K | Appendix L
- October 2013 | Report | Appendices A to C | Appendix D | Appendices E to I
- March 2013 | Report | Appendices
EPA letters to residents
Frequently asked questions
How did the EPA become aware of the contamination?
On 2 May 2012, the EPA received a report dated October 1992 from the current site owner of an industrial property in Hendon. The report provided historical information that identified the presence of perchloroethene (PCE), trichloroethene (TCE) and dichloroethene (DCE) in groundwater at offsite locations, outside the property boundaries.
What area is covered by the EPA environmental assessments?
The area covered by the environmental assessments is shown in the map.
What has occurred since May 2012?
May 2012: the EPA advised residents within parts of Hendon, Albert Park, Seaton and Royal Park not to use groundwater for any purpose. The EPA also offered to test private/domestic groundwater bores in the assessment area. The EPA has provided further updates to residents as information has become available.
August 2012: a site contamination consultant was engaged by the EPA to undertake environmental assessment works in the area. This has involved the drilling and installation of both groundwater monitoring wells and soil vapour wells on council land, road verges and at other select locations. The assessments have focussed on sensitive land uses which are defined in the National Environment Protection (Assessment of Site Contamination) Measure 1999 as residential land, child care facilities and primary schools.
March 2013: the first report was completed and indicated that chemical substances (predominantly PCE and TCE) were present in both groundwater and soil vapour in the assessment area. These chemicals are most likely associated with historical activities in the Hendon industrial area, dating back to when the disposal practices for such chemicals were less regulated than they are today. The report was reviewed by the EPA and the Department for Health and Ageing (DHA) and it was determined that additional assessment works were required to better understand the contamination and any risks that its presence may pose.
June and July 2013: a second stage of groundwater and soil vapour testing was undertaken. The report for the second stage of the assessment works was completed in October 2013 and confirmed the presence of chemical substances in groundwater and soil vapour (predominantly PCE and TCE). The second stage of assessment works largely determined the extent of the groundwater contamination.
March and April 2014: a third stage of assessment work which included additional groundwater and soil vapour testing was carried out. This included site specific assessment at a childcare centre. The report for this third round of testing was completed in June 2014. The report confirms the chemicals perchloroethene (PCE), trichloroethene (TCE) and dichloroethene (DCE) are present in groundwater and soil vapour. This report advises it may, under certain circumstances, be possible for the identified chemicals to rise up from the groundwater into buildings as vapour. The report concludes that the risks associated with indoor air vapour intrusion are currently considered to be acceptable.
The three assessment reports completed in March 2013 and October 2013 and June 2014 are now available online.
What is happening now?
The EPA is engaging with residents, landowners and the general community in the Hendon, Albert Park, Seaton and Royal Park area to report the findings of the assessment works carried out for the EPA.
While the June 2014 report has concluded that it is considered that the risks from indoor vapour intrusion are acceptable, the EPA considers it appropriate to undertake some further testing to confirm this conclusion and provide further assurance for the community. Seasonal changes can also affect the results.
Additional work to confirm soil vapour results is currently being undertaken.
The EPA will continue to engage with the local community to keep them informed of the latest findings and any subsequent assessment works.
How long has the contamination been present?
The contamination is historical in nature and arose from the industrial use of TCE and PCE solvents and their subsequent disposal using practices seen as inappropriate by today’s standards. It is likely that the contamination was caused progressively from the use of these chemical substances over time for cleaning metal parts and plastics, as well as other activities undertaken in the vicinity of the site. At this stage, the sources of the contamination has not been confirmed but we do know it originates from within the Hendon industrial area.
What are the contaminants in the groundwater in the EPA assessment area?
Trichloroethene (TCE) and perchloroethene (PCE) are common industrial solvents and were widely used as dry cleaning fluids, degreasers and metal cleaners. Dichloroethene (DCE) and vinyl chloride (VC) are generally present as the result of the degradation of TCE and PCE.
For more information on the contaminants, please refer to the Department for Health and Ageing fact sheet on chlorinated solvents in groundwater.
What is the problem posed by PCE, TCE and its breakdown products (DCE and VC)?
The chemical substances found to be present in groundwater also have the potential to change from liquid to gas (volatilise) and move through pore spaces in the soil to the ground surface. It is then possible for the chemicals in gaseous form to further migrate and build up in confined spaces such as cellars, houses and basement carparks. The risk posed by these chemicals in commercial/industrial properties and homes would be through long-term exposure.
Is my tap water or rainwater affected?
Tap water and rainwater is not affected. Your tap water is delivered to your home by SA Water through its distribution network which is unaffected by the contamination.
How did these chemical substances get into the air, soil and groundwater in the area?
PCE, TCE and its breakdown products (DCE & VC) are liquid chlorinated hydrocarbon chemicals that readily flow and evaporate when released into the environment. These chemicals have entered the soil and dissolved into groundwater. They then start flowing with the groundwater, away from the source site. In the Hendon/Albert Park/Seaton/Royal Park area, the general groundwater flow direction is toward the ocean (west to northwest) at an estimated velocity of 3.5–12 m/year.
Can I use the bore water?
The EPA and Department of Health and Ageing advises residents and property owners not to use bore water in the area until further notice
Is bore water being used to irrigate schools, council parks and reserves in the area?
The groundwater aquifers located close to the surface (shallow aquifers) are susceptible to contamination and the EPA and Department for Health and Ageing continue to advise that groundwater bores drilled in these aquifer are not to be used.
Generally, schools and the council have access to groundwater bores from a deeper aquifer. The bore water available from the deeper aquifer (Tertiary aquifer) is available for use, however, it is recommended by the EPA and the Department for Health and Ageing that this groundwater is regularly tested to ensure that it is suitable for its intended use.
Can the EPA check the depth and test the quality of my bore water?
The EPA is not offering testing of bore water at this time. The EPA and DHA continues to advise private bore owners not to use bore water (groundwater).
The EPA and the Department for Health and Ageing recommend that all groundwater (outside of an EPA assessment area) is tested prior to use.
How can contact with these chemical substances occur if they are in groundwater (bore water)?
Exposure by direct contact with groundwater should not occur because the groundwater is at a depth of 3–4 metres in the Hendon/Albert Park/Seaton/Royal Park area and residents have been advised not to extract or use groundwater in this region until further notice.
However exposure to these chemicals can occur through a process known as vapour intrusion. Volatile chemicals such as chlorinated hydrocarbons can migrate through the soil pore spaces to the ground surface, and then find their way through cracks and holes in the slab, floor or walls of a building. If ventilation is low, vapours may then accumulate within building spaces and be inhaled by persons in the building.
How can TCE and its breakdown products affect human health?
For information regarding the chlorinated hydrocarbons entering the human body, please refer to the Department for Health and Ageing fact sheet on chlorinated solvents in groundwater.
Are we exposed to TCE, PCE and the other related chemicals in the community?
Exposures to these chemicals may occur in the general community, for example, vinyl chloride (VC) is found in tobacco smoke while TCE can be found in some household products such as correction fluid, paint or spot removers.
DCE exposure can result from the use of perfumes, lacquers and some plastics (eg thermoplastics). These types of exposures are referred to as background exposures. As exposures to chemicals occur from many sources in our everyday life, it is important that when there is a chance of exposure occurring that can be reduced or eliminated, action is taken.
It needs to be recognised that exposure to any one chemical often occurs from many sources to varying degrees and it is important to reduce total exposures to the lowest amount possible. This is to ensure that total exposure levels are below those that may produce effects on health.
Are fruit trees and vegetable gardens affected by the contamination?
Most fruit trees have shallow root systems where the active root zone for water uptake is generally limited to the upper 0.5–1 metre of soil. Some plants, such as grape vines do extend their root systems down to the water table when rainfall is scarce.
The advice of the Department for Health and Ageing is that:
[An] assessment of the available literature indicates that the likelihood is low, of fruits and vegetables grown in soil near contaminated groundwater, containing TCE and related compounds at levels that might represent a risk to health. Typically SA Health advises that in areas impacted by TCE contaminated groundwater, home grown vegetables are safe and do not pose an appreciable risk to residents who consume them, provided they are not watered with contaminated groundwater.
I’d like to speak to someone in person about this information
A series of community information sessions will be held to meet with residents and community members to respond to their questions and present the latest EPA information. Alternatively, we ask residents to email us at or call 1800 729 175 (8 am to 6 pm weekdays) to make an appointment for someone to meet with you.
I would like more information regarding other EPA assessment areas and contaminated sites in South Australia.
Please contact the EPA on 1800 729 175 during weekdays between the hours of 8 am and 6 pm or email.
Can the EPA provide information about the consultants and auditors that have been engaged for EPA assessment areas and contaminated sites in South Australia?
Legislation requires the EPA to have a public register to make information available for the public to inspect.
The EPA Public Register can be accessed online, telephone (08) 8204 2004, 1800 623 445 (SA country callers) or by email.