A HUNTER school of around 235 students will have to wait at least a month to learn the level of PFAS present on its grounds.
Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) wrote in a fact sheet that it gave to Our Lady Of Lourdes Primary School Tarro on Thursday - and was distributed to families on Friday - that it had "recently become aware" that firefighting foam containing PFAS was used in past training activities on land that became part of the school in 2014.
FRNSW wrote it engaged consultants Nation Partners last month to lead an environmental investigation - comprising a preliminary site investigation, detailed site investigation and if necessary, a human health and ecological risk assessment - "to identify the nature and extent of PFAS in the environment... and any potential risks to people or the environment".
FRNSW wrote initial soil samples collected in late September during the preliminary site investigation "indicated the presence of PFAS".
"Detailed sampling works were completed during the school holidays to better understand the extent of PFAS present at the site and included sampling of soils and available surface water," it wrote.
"Groundwater monitoring wells were also installed and will be sampled soon.
"PFAS were detected in some soil samples and the surface water samples."
A spokesperson for the EPA said it was providing "expert advice" to FRNSW and the school "to ensure an appropriate scientific and risk-based approach is followed throughout the investigation" and would keep the school community informed.
"Finding PFAS in the environment does not mean there is a human health risk," the spokesperson said.
"The primary ways in which people can be exposed to PFAS include drinking, bathing or swimming in bore or surface water containing PFAS or eating home grown food... produced using water containing PFAS.
"These practices are not known to occur at the school."
FRNSW wrote to families that preliminary assessment of the available soil sample results "indicates that there is minimal risk of exposure to PFAS".
"Nation Partners are currently completing the investigation process and will provide the final assessment of the sample results in the investigation report... expected to be released in November."
It will also recommend if further action is required.
Principal Cheryl Henderson wrote to families on Friday the diocese had sought to confirm with FRNSW if it should delay the start of term; close parts of the playground or cease construction of demountables in a cordoned-off area, but was advised "normal operations could continue".
She said student and family wellbeing was "of utmost importance".