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Important information for communities around RAAF Base Amberley.

Investigations and findings

In September 2020, Defence completed investigations per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination on and around RAAF Base Amberley.

Defence recognises that the PFAS contamination at RAAF Base Amberley is a significant issue for the local community. 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.

Five source areas were identified where PFAS was found at levels requiring further study or action. These are:

  • The current fire training pad
  • The former fire station
  • Wastewater holding tank
  • Base sewage treatment plant
  • Temporary soil stockpile area (location where soil is stored)

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.

The assessment found the PFAS contamination from RAAF Base Amberley has an elevated exposure risk to human health at some locations. Based on the findings, the Queensland Government issued precautionary dietary advice. It advises not to eat fish caught from Swanbank Lake, Oaky Creek and from specific areas of the Warrill and Bundadamba Creeks and the Bremer River. 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 source areas and how much PFAS is leaving the base. When finalised, this study will help determine the best remediation actions to reduce the amount of PFAS leaving RAAF Base Amberley.

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 Defence is taking to manage potential risks presented by PFAS.

Remediation

Remediation actions to reduce PFAS from leaving the base from the source areas are currently in the planning stage.

Defence is planning to upgrade the existing sewage treatment plant to provide greater capacity and treatment performance. As part of this work Defence is also developing a remediation action plan for the sewage treatment plant site. Remediation works are expected to begin when the current plant is shut down in December 2023.

A remediation action plan is also being developed for the temporary soil stockpile area located near Hansen Road. Defence is currently preparing the remediation works, which are expected to begin in 2024.

Ongoing monitoring

Defence’s management approach includes the continued monitoring of surface water, groundwater and sediment. Monitoring helps Defence understand if PFAS contamination is changing over time. The results are published in an Ongoing Monitoring Interpretive Report and factsheet.

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 moving off 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 RAAF Base Amberley 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 information have been superseded by recent reports and factsheets.

Document Archive - Amberley (PDF, 348.67 KB)

Last review: 28 June 2023