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PFAS Investigation &
Management Program

RAAF Base Williamtown

Williamtown Investigation Summary

Defence commenced investigations into the nature and extent of PFAS on and around RAAF Base Williamtown in 2015.

In 2016, Defence completed an Environmental Site Assessment (ESA), a Human Health Risk Assessment (HHRA) and a Preliminary Ecological Risk Assessment (ERA) for RAAF Base Williamtown. Following the completion of these assessments, it was identified that data gaps remained in some portions of the Investigation Area. As a result further works are underway to update and refine the 2016 assessment reports.

Currently, Defence is conducting additional works as part of the detailed environmental investigation that will continue through to late 2017 and include the following activities:

  • The uptake of PFAS in fruit and vegetables
  • The uptake of PFAS in chicken eggs
  • Seafood sampling and analysis
  • Additional surface water and groundwater data collection, and
  • Additional sediment data collection and analysis
In 2017, Defence released an Offsite-Human Health Risk Assessment – Sensitivity Assessment as an addendum to the 2016 HHRA report that provides additional guidance about precautionary recommendations for Williamtown residents to minimise exposure to PFAS chemicals.

The most recent community information session was conducted on 6 April 2017.

Defence is working continuously towards the effective monitoring and management of PFAS contamination and continues to engage with industry experts both nationally and internationally to identify the best management options for PFAS throughout Australia. More information on the current activities being undertaken by Defence can be found at the Management Activities page.

Community Consultation Timeline

Past community consultation events are recorded here. The most recent events appear first, older events can be found in the expandable menus below.

2017 Consultations

MAY 22

2017 Community Survey

On 22 May 2017 a survey was released for people living within the Investigation Area. Following the completion of the Human Health Risk Assessment HHRA, data gaps were identified in some portions of the Investigation. As a result, AECOM Australia Pty Ltd (AECOM) on behalf of Defence is conducting further studies to address these gaps and update and refine the HHRA.

This 2017 community survey will inform Defence’s ongoing investigation of, and response to, the PFAS contamination in the Investigation Area, in particular refining the HHRA.

APR 06

Community Information Session – Sensitivity Assessment Report

In April 2017 Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) released tolerable daily intakes (TDI) for PFAS substances. On 6 April 2017, Defence updated the Williamtown community on the effect of the new TDIs on the Human Health Risk Assessment. Download the presentaion to find out more about the new TDIs and how they might affect you.

2016 Consultations

DEC 02

Community Information Session – Preliminary Ecological Risk Assessment and Management Actions for 2017

On 2 December 2016, Defence updated the Williamtown community on the environmental investigation in the area. The presentation gave a broad overview of the situation at Williamtown, and is a good resource for residents who want to know what Defence has done so far. The session focused on environmental management processes, such as water sampling results, but also included some information on health guidelines and blood testing. It reflects Defence’s ongoing commitment to investigating both the ecological and health effects of PFAS.

NOV 02

Community Information Session –Human Health Risk Assessment

On 2 November 2016, Defence held an information session to update the Williamtown community on the human health risks from PFAS contamination in the area. It is an important resource on the human health risks of PFAS and includes everything Defence currently knows about the health risks in Williamtown. It showed what information Defence has been given on health risks, combined with what Defence knows about the use of local land. In doing so, it informed residents which locations and products carried most risk from PFAS contamination. Residents who are concerned about their intake of PFAS should view this presentation to gain an understanding of the risks to them.

Aug 01

Community Information Session – Stage 2B Environmental Site Assessment and Human Health Risk Assessment

On 1 August 2016, Defence conducted an information session to explain the upcoming human health risk assessment. It described what kinds of activities would be undertaken in this assessment, and the possible health risks which might be identified. It also provided early information on the kinds of environmental activities Defence plans to implement. The presentation answers questions raised by earlier sessions on health and environmental issues, and poses new ones for future Defence investigations.

JUN 23

Community Reference Group Presentation – History of Williamtown RAAF Base and Remediation Trials Overview

On 23 June 2016, Defence held a presentation and information session for the Williamtown community reference group, comprised of Defence and non-Defence attendees. The session gave a basic overview of where PFAS came from, why it was used, and how it can potentially be removed from the area. It delivered an overview of RAAF Base Williamtown’s history, including its use of firefighting foams in the past. It also showed the results of some remediation trial programs.

MAR 03

Community Reference Group Presentation – History of Williamtown RAAF Base and Remediation Trials Overview

On 3 March 2016, Defence gave a presentation on the environmental investigation into Williamtown. This follow-up to the opening session included further information on the extent of contamination and proposed possible management options for the future. It also outlined how residents can access ongoing water assistance from Defence, to ensure they knew what precautions they could take to protect themselves as the investigation deepened.