Defence is undertaking a national program to review, investigate and implement a comprehensive approach to manage the impacts of per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) on, and in the vicinity of, some of its bases around Australia.
From 2004, Defence commenced phasing out its use of legacy firefighting foam containing specific types of PFAS - perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) - as active ingredients. The legacy firefighting foam was used extensively worldwide, and within Australia, from about the 1970s by both civilian and military authorities due to its effectiveness in extinguishing liquid fuel fires. Defence now uses a more environmentally safe product. Furthermore, Defence has made changes to the way it uses firefighting foam to ensure that the risk of releasing the products into the environment is minimised.
Defence is taking a proactive approach to this matter and is working with Commonwealth, state and local authorities in the conduct of its investigations.
Defence is being open and transparent in making the verified test results available to the local community; and is sharing this information with relevant state/territory and local authorities, to assist with planning.
Defence continues to work towards the effective monitoring and management of PFAS contamination on and in the vicinity of affected sites across Australia.
The Department of Health has released a letter from the Chair of the PFAS Expert Health Panel in response to recent news articles.
You can read a copy of the letter here.
On 10 August 2018, the Turnbull Government announced the first round recipients of funding as part of the Australian Research Council’s Special Research Initiative (ARC SRI) PFAS Remediation Research Program.
The recipients will focus on the development of new technologies and remediation solutions to minimise and remove PFAS from contaminated areas in soil, groundwater, waterways and marine systems.
Further information is available in the joint media release here.
In November 2017 the Department of Health established an Expert Health Panel to provide independent advice on the potential health effects of PFAS exposure.
On 7 May 2018 the Expert Health Panel for PFAS Report was released. Visit the Department of Health Website for further information or to download a copy of the report.