Latest updates

Important information for communities around Lavarack Barracks.

December 2020 - March 2023 Ongoing Monitoring Interpretive Report - October 2023 (PDF, 57.11 MB)

RAAF Base Townsville Community Consultative Session Presentation (PDF, 10.79 MB)

Lavarack Barracks Community Consultative Session Posters - October 2023 (PDF, 3.69 MB)

Lavarack Barracks – Remediation and monitoring update - October 2023 (PDF, 1.78 MB)

Investigations and findings

In August 2020, Defence completed investigations into per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination on and around Lavarack Barracks. Defence is committed to working with the Queensland 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.

Two source areas were initially identified where PFAS was found in soil or groundwater at concentrations that required further study or action. These were:

  • the former fire station
  • the former fire training area and Monocell (an underground waste containment cell).

Human Health Risk Assessment

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

This assessment found no potentially elevated exposure risk scenarios for the activities people typically undertake within the management area. However, an elevated exposure risk was identified if milk fish caught from Fairfield Lake or eel caught from the Ross River, upstream of Aplin’s Weir are eaten more than twice a week.

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

Additional investigations

Defence conducted a Mass Flux Assessment that tracks how and where PFAS is moving from the 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 Lavarack Barracks.

The investigations found that PFAS mainly moves off base through surface water over the central part of the northern boundary into Ross River. The investigations also found the former fire training area was not a major source of the PFAS contamination in the surface water and there was no evidence that the monocell was an ongoing source of PFAS contamination.

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

As most PFAS moves through surface water at Lavarack Barracks, the remedial works focus on addressing PFAS in the top layer of soils and other surfaces such as concrete.

Soil remediation

The following provides an update for each of the major PFAS sources identified in the investigations.

The former fire station

The former fire station is located in the central portion of Lavarack Barracks. Investigations have confirmed that the former fire station is the largest source of PFAS leaving the base. The soil in this area contains more than 50 kg of PFAS.

A remediation action plan has been prepared for the former fire station to reduce PFAS discharges to surface drains on the site and into the management area. Proposed remediation works for this area include soil stabilisation.

The process removes PFAS-impacted soil and treats it with a natural product. This makes the PFAS stick to the product within the soil and stops it from moving when it rains. The treated soil is then placed back and covered with a clean layer of topsoil to prevent erosion.

Some of this treated soil will also be relocated to local landfills. However, if the soil has PFAS concentrations that are too high to treat effectively, that soil will be sent interstate for disposal at a thermal destruction facility. Additionally, some concrete will be removed and safely disposed off base.

Defence expects that these works will commence in 2024.

The former fire training area and Monocell

The former fire training area and Monocell are located in the southern portion of Lavarack Barracks. Investigations confirmed that there are no additional management actions required in this area. The Mass Flux Assessment identified that the Monocell is not an ongoing source of PFAS contamination and the former fire training area is not a major source of PFAS contamination in the surface water.

There is potential for PFAS contaminated soil to be located under the 3rd Battalion of Royal Australian Regiment headquarters building, which has been constructed on top of parts of the former fire training area. As the soil cannot be accessed, and is not found to be adding to PFAS contamination in the surface water, no additional actions are proposed at this point in time. However, further actions will be considered if the building is demolished for future redevelopment.

Groundwater remediation

As investigations suggest that surface water run-off is the key source of PFAS leaving the base, there are no active groundwater remedial works currently planned to be conducted at the base.

Ongoing monitoring

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

Recent reports and factsheets

Detailed reports about Defence's investigation and management of PFAS at Lavarack Barracks are available for download. Appendices to these reports can be found in the document archive. To discuss these reports, contact

Document archive

The Lavarack Barracks 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 archived documents has been superseded by recent reports and factsheets.

Documents Archive - Lavarack Barracks (PDF, 221.01 KB)

Last review: 12 December 2023