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.
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.
Australia’s Environment Ministers have endorsed the country’s first PFAS National Environmental Management Plan (NEMP). The PFAS NEMP provides governments with a consistent, practical, risk-based framework for the environmental regulation of PFAS-contaminated materials and sites. The PFAS NEMP has been developed as an adaptive plan, able to respond to emerging research and knowledge.
Visit the Environment Protection Authority Victoria website to download the plan or read more.