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Important information for communities around HMAS Cerberus.

Investigations and findings

In October 2018, Defence completed detailed investigations into per- and poly fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination on and around HMAS Cerberus. Defence is committed to working with the Victorian 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.

The fire training area was identified as the only source area at HMAS Cerberus where PFAS was found at levels requiring further study or action.

Human health risks

The investigations found the PFAS contamination from HMAS Cerberus has a low exposure risk to human health. More detail on Defence’s risk assessments can be found in the HMAS Cerberus Detailed Site Investigation Findings factsheet.

Additional investigations

Defence is currently conducting a Mass Flux Assessment that tracks how and where PFAS is moving from and how much PFAS is leaving the base. This study will help determine whether more remediation action is required to reduce the amount of PFAS leaving HMAS Cerberus.

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 setting out the proposed remedial works and other management actions to manage potential risks presented by PFAS.

Soil remediation

At HMAS Cerberus, Defence is focused on soil remediation works at the fire training area. The soil at this location contains more than 8 kg of PFAS. Remediation works for this contaminated soil began in 2021 with the construction of an engineered containment cell. The cell is specially designed to prevent rain water from reaching the contaminated soils. This helps to minimise the spread of PFAS further through rain water. The cell holds approximately 14,000 m3 of PFAS contaminated soil and 4,500 m3 of lead impacted soil found elsewhere on base. Clean soil and topsoil have been placed over the cell to a depth of more than half a metre. These works were completed in 2023.

Ongoing monitoring

Monitoring of PFAS continues through sampling of surface water and groundwater. Monitoring helps Defence understand if PFAS contamination is changing over time.

The 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 Cerberus document archive contains information that Defence has published about the management of PFAS. This includes:

  • older community presentations,
  • investigation reports,
  • risk assessments and
  • factsheets.

Some of archived information has been superseded by recent reports and factsheets.

Documents Archive - Cerberus (PDF, 271.58 KB)

Last review: 28 June 2023