DEFENCE is working on a management plan for PFAS contamination at and around HMAS Albatross, south west of Nowra.
Defence says it is developing a PFAS Management Areas Plan (PMAP) for the area, which will outline activities the organisation will undertake to manage and reduce the risks of PFAS exposure at the base and nearby areas.
PFAS - per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances - are a group of chemicals that include perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS), which were widely used in firefighting foams at a number of locations, including defence facilities such as Albatross and the Jervis Bay Range, which also takes in HMAS Creswell, until being phased out in 2004-05.
The PMAP will guide Defence on a number of factors -
To manage the key sources of contamination such as the former firefighting training area and sewage treatment plant;
Reduce the amount of PFAS in the environment;
Reduce PFAS migration from the base; and
Manage the exposure risks for the community.
Developing the PMAP involves a review of the sources of the contamination and the key ways it is migrating into the wider community.
It also includes a comparison and evaluation of the range of available PFAS management activities to identify possible remediation options for the site.
As part of the PMAP, an Ongoing Monitoring Plan (OMP) is being prepared to outline the sampling program that will be undertaken by Defence to monitor and track the PFAS contamination over the coming years.
Once complete, the PMAP will be reviewed annually, or more frequently if new information or technology arises which has the potential to impact the PMAP objectives.
The detailed environmental investigation into PFAS on, and in the vicinity of Albatross has been completed.
Preliminary site investigations (PSI) into the contamination around the Naval Air Station was completed in September 2016.
In November 2017, the Detailed Site Investigation (DSI) and Human Health and Ecological Risk Assessment (HHERA) reports were presented to the local community.
The DSI involved sampling soil, sediment, surface and ground water to collect information and better understand how PFAS moves through the environment.
The HHERA provides a better understanding of the potential for PFAS exposure to people, plants and animals within the investigation area.
An addendum to this report was published in June 2018 to include some further risks not fully assessed in the HHERA Report.
At that meeting Defence said it was working on ways to stop toxic PFAS chemicals, from migrating off the base.
Defence is engaging with NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and other NSW Government departments to review and comment on the PMAP and OMP prior to public release.
Another community walk-in session is scheduled for the first quarter of this year.
Looking into PFAS?
Better know your acronyms!
You’ve got to love an acronym - Defence certainly loves to use them.
Anyone who has covered anything to do with PFAS (per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances) will have dealt with any number over the years.
In the latest report alone there were at least five word or name abbreviations.
It can be fun to try and get your head around!
Lets talk PFAS, PMAP, PSI, DSI, HHERA, OMP, oh and of course, don’t forget PFOS, PFOA or PFHxS.
And for good measure lets chuck in NSW EPA.
If you are baffled, here’s a quick breakdown.
- PFAS - per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances a group of chemicals widely used in the community including firefighting foams (both Defence and civilian) at a number of locations around the country. They have heat, water and stain repelling properties, and have been widely used in a range of industrial and consumer products both in Australia and internationally, including in fire retardants, water proofing, food preparation, food packaging, furnishings, clothing and recreational equipment.
- PFOS - perfluorooctane sulfonate.
- PFOA - perfluorooctanoic acid.
- PFHxS - perfluorohexane sulfonate.
- PFCs - perfluorinated chemicals.
- AFFF - aqueous film forming foam.
- PMAP - PFAS Management Areas Plan.
- OMP - Ongoing Monitoring Plan.
- PSI - Premimilray site investigation.
- DSI - Detailed Site Investigation.
- HHERA - Human Health and Ecological Risk Assessment.
- NEPM - National Environmental Protection (Assessment of Site Contamination) Measure framework.
- NHMRC - National Health and Medical Research Council.
- And let’s throw in a couple of other terms you are bound to come across.
- DoD - Department of Defence.
- ADF - Australian Defence Force.
- RAN - Royal Australian Navy.
- RAAF - Royal Australian Air Force.
- JBRF - Jervis Bay Range Facility.
- STP - sewerage treatment plant.
- EnHealth - Environmental Health Standing Committee.
- NSW EPA - NSW Environment Protection Authority.
- NSW DPI - NSW Department of Primary Industries.
- CAP - Coalition Against PFAS.
- ARC - Australian Research Council.
- SRI - ARC Special Research Initiatives.
- PFAS RRP - PFAS Remediation Research Program.
- NSW RFS - NSW Rural Fire Service.
- HBGVs - Health Based Guidance Values.
- FSANZ - Food Standards Australia New Zealand.
- MoU - Memorandum of Understanding.