Defence is working closely with industry partners and research institutions to learn more about the nature of PFAS and potential management and remediation options. Scientific research into PFAS is still developing. Defence is contributing to the growing scientific knowledge of PFAS through it’s involvement in leading edge studies and trials. Some of these studies and trials are listed below.
The Australian Research Council (ARC) has allocated $8.2 million in the first round of funding to support a range of PFAS research projects. Visit the ARC website for further information.
On Wednesday, 10 October 2018 Round Two of the Special Research Initiative: PFAS Remediation Research Program was opened. $4.8 million of funding was made available for this round. Applications close 14 February 2019.
For more information about Round Two of the Special Research Initiative: PFAS Remediation Research Program, please visit GrantConnect.
Defence, in partnership with the Cooperative Research Centre for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment (CRC CARE), will be installing a trial remediation system for PFAS in groundwater at RAAF Base Richmond. Installation commenced in early October 2019 and is expected to take two months, with the trial continuing for a further 6 months post installation.
It is important to note that this trial is targeting only a section of the contaminated former fire training area and will not result in full remediation. The trial aims to test and prove the technology for possible wider application.
Defence has engaged Ventia Utility Services to operate and maintain a PFAS Soil Treatment Plant at RAAF Base Edinburgh. These works will occur as part of a four month trial aimed at treating 2,500 tonnes of soil from an area with known elevated levels of PFAS.
The plant will work by washing the contaminated soil in a solution which removes the PFAS, before the waste is sent off-site for management or destruction.
In October 2017, Defence engaged Umwelt to commence a drainage study of the Williamtown, Fullerton Cove and Salt Ash local catchment areas. The aim of the study was to better understand the capabilities and limitations of the existing drainage network, within the Williamtown region, and to determine if any engineering improvements would positively impact on the efficiency of the network.
A copy of the report and a factsheet that summarises the findings are available below.
In March 2017, Defence partnered with the University of Queensland to investigate a passive sampling device that can measure average PFAS concentrations over a period of time in groundwater systems. Consistent uptake of PFAS was observed in the sampling devices for the majority of sites investigated with a strong correlation observed between the amount of PFAS accumulated in the device and the groundwater concentrations.
This suggests the sampling device could be a useful tool in determining PFAS concentrations in a wide range of groundwater contamination situations. Additional studies are recommended in order to further understand the sampling device’s limitations as well as to extend the use of the device to additional environmental conditions.
In January 2017, Defence partnered with AECOM to conduct a study to assess and evaluate PFAS residue in eggs, relative to a range of intake rates by chickens, and which are exposed to a range of PFAS concentrations. It also investigated the rate that PFAS residue decline in eggs if chickens are provided with a PFAS -free drinking water supply.
Further information on the Chicken Egg Uptake Study is available in the Williamtown Chicken Egg Uptake Study and Oakey Chicken Egg Uptake Study factsheets.
In November 2016, Defence partnered with AECOM to undertake a study to evaluate how different plants uptake PFAS at a range of different water-based concentrations within a controlled environment.
The selected test plants include: radish, beets, rocket, strawberries, alfalfa, cherry tomatoes and cucumber.
Further information on the Plant Uptake Study is available in the factsheets below:
In July 2016, Defence, in collaboration with AECOM, undertook a soil solidification and stabilisation trial. The objective of the trial was to assess the effectiveness of nine individual products in chemically immobilising PFAS in soil.
A review of the trial identified a number of products which showed the potential to reduce the ability for PFAS to migrate away from the source soil. However, a number of questions surrounding the long-term effectiveness of the respective processes were raised by both Defence and the regulators; namely, changes in soil structure and biology as well as the effects these processes may have on plant life. As such, additional testing would be required prior to any recommendations being made.