Defence approach to PFAS management

Defence’s priority is to support communities impacted by per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination on and around Defence bases. These efforts include managing, remediating and monitoring PFAS contamination.

Stage 1: investigating and planning

The first stage of PFAS management involved site investigations, and human health and ecological risk assessments, conducted in line with the National Environment Protection (Assessment of Site Contamination) Measure 1999 and PFAS National Environmental Management Plan.

For each base, the findings from these actions identified the areas where PFAS contamination is concentrated, known as source areas, and where pathways from the source areas may result in PFAS exposure for people, plants or animals. Human health and ecological risk assessments examined the potential risks of PFAS exposure.

Defence used this information to develop a PFAS Management Area Plan for each site, which sets out the actions Defence is taking to manage and remediate PFAS contamination. The reports from each of these activities are available via links on the site webpage.

This stage commenced in 2016 and is now complete at all 28 bases in Defence’s National PFAS Investigation and Management Program. These sites were selected using an assessment and prioritisation process based on how legacy fire fighting foam was used or stored.

At some sites, management and remediation activities commenced before the full completion of investigations. In many cases, this has been to provide an alternative drinking water supply to households where a water supply may be contaminated.

Stage 2: remediating, managing and monitoring

Each of the 28 sites in the program have now entered the second stage, focused on implementing the PFAS Management Area Plan. This can involve taking actions to manage, remediate and monitor PFAS.

These actions can include removing or treating soil and groundwater in source areas, and minimising the movement of PFAS through surface water and groundwater to the surrounding environment. Defence works with leading industry and research organisations to develop innovative remediation and management options.

Over time, these activities are expected to reduce PFAS levels or exposure on and around Defence bases.

Defence is committed to working with local communities and councils, federal, state and territory governments, regarding actions Defence is taking to manage and reduce any risks from PFAS contamination. Defence regularly holds community information sessions to provide updates on the progress of remediation and to answer questions from the community.

Defence continues to monitor PFAS contamination with the results for each site published in an Ongoing Monitoring Interpretive Report and accompanying factsheet. This sampling helps Defence understand any changes to where PFAS has been found, and the levels of contamination in the environment. Findings are then used to determine whether additional management or remediation may be required, or if existing measures need to change in the PFAS Management Area Plan.

PFAS Program document archive

The PFAS Program document archive contains links to a broad range of information that Defence has previously published about the management of PFAS. The archive enables access to information that is not already contained in the individual document archives on each PFAS management site page.

Note that information in some of these archived documents has been updated by more recent reports and factsheets.

PFAS Program document archive (PDF, 856.6 KB)