RESULTS of in-depth testing at HMAS Albatross due to possible contamination from the historical use of firefighting foams are expected to be reported by the end of the year.
Defence is currently in the process of detailed site investigation (DSI) and a human health and ecological risk assessment (HHERA) as part of the environmental investigation at Albatross and the Jervis Bay Range Facility (JBRF).
Concerns about possible contamination at local bases, Albatross and Creswell and the JBRF, were back in the spotlight after ABC’s Four Corners show on Monday night revealed the extent of the problem at other bases around the country.
Defence historically used firefighting foams containing PFAS - a group of chemicals that include perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS).
Defence started detailed environmental investigations on and in the surrounding area of HMAS Albatross in May 2016, with a spokesperson saying DSI and HHERA were currently underway as part of the environmental investigation at JBRF.
Detailed environmental investigations at JB are expected to be completed in mid-2018.
“The DSI aims to define the nature and extent of PFAS contamination and will identify PFAS source areas on-base and the pathways of PFAS migration off-base,” the spokesperson said.
The HHERA will provide a better understanding of risks posed by PFAS to people and the environment.
“Since April 2017 further sampling of groundwater off-base and plants and animals has been conducted to inform both the DSI and HHERA for Albatross which are both anticipated to be completed and published in late 2017,” the spokeperson said.
“In March 2017, Defence started detailed environmental investigation on and in the surrounding area of Jervis Bay Range.
“Due to its close proximity to JBRF, HMAS Creswell falls within the investigation area and will be considered in the JBRF investigation.”
Defence says it is committed to working with communities affected by possible contamination from the historical use of firefighting foams.
The spokesperson said the organisation understands community concerns in relation to PFAS [firefighting foams] detections.
“We are committed to working with the relevant authorities to ensure the affected communities are provided with the most up-to-date information relating to PFAS and the investigations,” the spokesperson said.
“Once investigation findings are finalised for JBRF and Albatross, Defence will provide the results to the local communities.
“The findings of the investigations will be used to inform mitigation strategies to minimise long-term PFAS exposure to the local community and environment.
“The nature and extent of the PFAS presence at each site is different due to the differing nature of the topography, hydrology and hydrogeology.
“The investigations at the areas surrounding Albatross and JBRF have identified there are no residents using groundwater for domestic purposes.
“As a result, there are no properties in the JBRF and Albatross areas receiving alternative drinking water.”
Defence expects to conduct the next community walk-in sessions for Albatross in late 2017 to present the findings of the DSI and HHERA.
It also expects to hold walk-in sessions in Jervis Bay in late 2017 to discuss current activities, scheduling and potential sampling around the Wreck Bay and Jervis Bay village and communities.