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The Defence estate – environmental challenges


In 2015–16, Defence continued detailed environmental investigations into the presence of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) on and in the vicinity of RAAF Williamtown, New South Wales and Army Aviation Centre Oakey, Queensland, and the Australian Government has allocated $55 million to address issues at those locations.

The then Parliamentary Secretary for Defence, The Hon Darren Chester MP; Director Energy Efficiency, Environment Resource Management and Sustainability, Ms Stacey Hannon; Chair of the Tyre Stewardship Australia Board, Mr Gerry Morvell; Minister for the Environment, the Hon Greg Hunt MP; Commander Joint Logistics, Rear Admiral Clint Thomas; Deputy Secretary Estate and Infrastructure, Mr Steve Grzeskowiak; and Commandant of Australian Defence College Major General Simone Wilkie at Royal Military College – Duntroon in Canberra, for the Tyre Stewardship Australia announcement
The then Parliamentary Secretary for Defence, The Hon Darren Chester MP; Director Energy Efficiency, Environment Resource Management and Sustainability, Ms Stacey Hannon; Chair of the Tyre Stewardship Australia Board, Mr Gerry Morvell; Minister for the Environment, the Hon Greg Hunt MP; Commander Joint Logistics, Rear Admiral Clint Thomas; Deputy Secretary Estate and Infrastructure, Mr Steve Grzeskowiak; and Commandant of Australian Defence College Major General Simone Wilkie at Royal Military College – Duntroon in Canberra, for the Tyre Stewardship Australia announcement

Defence began detailed environmental investigations into these compounds at another three sites, and conducted preliminary site investigations into these compounds at a further 12 sites.

Alongside military and civilian estate managers around the globe, Defence is undertaking a significant program of work to detect the presence of these compounds on and near its bases.

PFOS and PFOA were used in a range of industrial, commercial and domestic products for decades due to their ability to repel oil, grease and water. These products included aqueous film-forming foams, which were used for nearly 50 years on Defence and civilian facilities in Australia and worldwide due to their effectiveness in extinguishing liquid fuel fires.

Defence is working with the Department of the Environment and Energy and the Department of Health, as well as relevant state and territory authorities, to understand more about the presence of these compounds. Defence is actively researching and trialling methods for management and remediation of these compounds.

Defence is also meeting environmental challenges on other fronts. On 12 August 2015, the Australian Government announced the Department of Defence’s commitment to ensuring its fleet tyres are managed and recycled in an environmentally sound way by joining Tyre Stewardship Australia.