Latest updates

Important information for communities around HMAS Albatross.

2022 Ongoing Monitoring Report – March 2023 (PDF, 45.27 MB)

Community Consultative Session Factsheet – Nov 2023 (PDF, 1.51 MB)

Investigations and findings

In June 2018, Defence completed investigations into per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination on and around HMAS Albatross. Defence recognises that the PFAS contamination at HMAS Albatross is a significant issue for the local community. Defence is committed to working with the NSW Government to manage, remediate and monitor PFAS contamination in the area.

The investigations found that PFAS is mostly concentrated in areas where firefighting foams were previously used, stored or disposed. These are called source areas. The PFAS in these locations can be found in soil and in water flowing through the source areas. PFAS moves in surface water flowing through drains and creeks or groundwater that flows underground through soil and rock.

Three sources areas were found at HMAS Albatross where PFAS concentrations required further study or action:

  • The Former Firefighting Training Area
  • The Hangars and Flight Lines
  • Sewage Treatment Plant

The investigations found that PFAS had accumulated in areas where firefighting foams had not previously been used or stored. These are called secondary source areas. The PFAS in the secondary sources areas was released from one of the primary source areas and over time has travelled and gathered in the soil and water within the secondary source area. The sewage treatment plant and irrigation areas were identified as secondary source areas that required further study or action.

HMAS Albatross is situated on a plateau (a flat topped hill) and is surrounded by several creeks. The site’s location causes surface water to run off to the west and east of the base. West flowing surface water travels into the Braidwood Drain, which eventually enters the Shoalhaven River. The water flowing to the east flows into Yerriyong Gully and the upper sections of Currambene Creek which eventually enters Jervis Bay.

Human Health and Ecological Risk Assessment

As part of the investigations, Defence conducted a Human Health and Ecological Risk Assessment. This assessment measured the PFAS exposure risks to people living, working and undertaking recreational activities within the management area and to local plant and animal life.

This assessment found the PFAS contamination from HMAS Albatross presented an elevated exposure risk to human health and to local plant and animal life in some locations. Based on findings from the investigations, the New South Wales Environment Protection Authority issued precautionary dietary advice for people who regularly eat Luderick, Sea Mullet, Sand Whiting, Dusky Flathead, Silverbiddy and Mulloway caught from the Shoalhaven River and Currambene Creek.

More detail on Defence’s risk assessments can be found in the Human Health and Ecological Risk Assessment factsheet.

Additional investigations

Defence conducted a Mass Flux Assessment that tracks how and where PFAS is moving from source areas and how much PFAS is leaving the base. This study helps determine the best remediation actions to reduce the amount of PFAS leaving HMAS Albatross.

The assessment found that PFAS mainly moves off the base in surface water when it rains, and most PFAS moves off the base via the Braidwood Drain. The assessment also identified that approximately half of the PFAS moving off the base each year occurs during the larger rain events, when it rains more than 15 mm in a 24-hour period.

Remediation and management

The aim of remediation is to minimise PFAS leaving the base by focusing on the remediation and management of the source areas. Over time this will contribute to the reduction of PFAS in the management area. Defence has a PFAS Management Area Plan for HMAS Albatross setting out the proposed remedial works and other management actions to manage potential risks presented by PFAS.

Source area remediation

Defence has completed the design of remedial works to manage PFAS contamination at the former firefighting training area. These activities involve installing an engineered capping layer over the contaminated soil to create a barrier between PFAS contaminated soils and water that may drain off the site. This barrier will reduce the amount of PFAS moving into the surface water through rain water runoff. Defence expects these works to commence in 2024.

Ongoing monitoring

Monitoring of PFAS continues on and around HMAS Albatross, through sampling of surface water and groundwater. Monitoring helps Defence understand if PFAS contamination is changing over time. Results are published in an Ongoing Monitoring Interpretive Report and factsheet. Defence will inform the community if changes to the management approach are required.

Monitoring results to date have found no significant changes to how PFAS is moving in the management area. However, the remedial works are expected to reduce PFAS from leaving the base, and over time this will contribute to the reduction of PFAS in the management area.

Recent reports and factsheets

Detailed reports from the PFAS investigation and management are available for download. Appendices to these reports can be found in the document archive. To discuss these reports, contact pfas.enquiry@defence.gov.au.

Document archive

The HMAS Albatross document archive contains information that Defence has published about the management of PFAS, including older community presentations, investigation reports, risk assessments and factsheets.

Some archived information has been superseded by recent reports and factsheets.

Documents Archive - Albatross (PDF, 221.94 KB)

Last review: 6 March 2024