Latest updates

Important information for communities around RAAF Base Edinburgh.

2021 Interpretive Report – January 2024 (PDF, 64.16 MB)

2021 Interpretive Report factsheet – January 2024 (PDF, 1.42 MB)

South Australia Environment Protection Authority groundwater prohibition area

Investigations and findings

In August 2019, Defence completed investigations into per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination on and around RAAF Base Edinburgh.

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.

Defence’s investigation was independently audited by the South Australian Environment Protection Authority to make sure it met South Australian legislation and guidelines.

Groundwater Prohibition Area

Based on the findings of the investigations and the recommendations of the audit, the South Australia Environment Protection Authority has established a groundwater prohibition area between the Edinburgh RAAF Defence Precinct to the Barker Inlet, which applies to identified groundwaters (aquifers). The aim of the groundwater prohibition area is to protect current and future residents from accessing contaminated groundwater via a bore on their property.

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

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.

At RAAF Base Edinburgh, Defence is focused on the management of PFAS in soil, groundwater and in infrastructure such as concrete.

New remediation technologies have also been trialled at the base for future use at Edinburgh and other bases around Australia.

Soil remediation

Defence is taking remediation actions at the main source areas for PFAS at RAAF Base Edinburgh, which include former fire training areas, former areas of fire-fighting foam storage and the current fire station area. Remedial works in these areas are scheduled to be completed this year. Remedial works focusing on a foam evaporation pond is due to start in late 2023 and be completed in early 2024.

Remediation works to excavate around 34,000 tonnes of soil from 6 source areas at the base are almost complete. Most of the soil had lower PFAS contamination levels, and was treated with a natural product such as activated carbon. This stops PFAS moving from the soil when water flows over or through it. The soil with the highest PFAS contamination levels was treated at a licensed facility, using thermal destruction technology.

The use of activated carbon at the base was supported by research from the University of Adelaide. Activated carbon has now been used at several other bases across Australia.

Defence also supported the trial of a soil-washing plant at the base. The plant successfully removed approximately 90% of PFAS mass from clay soil and 98% of PFAS mass from sandy soil. The PFAS was removed off-site for management or destruction at a licensed facility. This trial has now concluded, and the soil treatment plant is no longer active. The plant washed about 2,500 tonnes of soil taken from the fire training area at RAAF Base Edinburgh, and 1,500 tonnes of soil taken from RAAF Base Williamtown.

Groundwater remediation

Defence is also using a water treatment plant to remove PFAS from the groundwater beneath the current fire training area, the former fire training area, the waste water retention system and the former firefighting foam storage area. By treating these areas, Defence reduces the amount of PFAS which moves off base through groundwater. The plant has been running since 2019, and has treated over 114 million litres of water and removed approximately 24 kg of PFAS as of June 2023.

Defence will continue to monitor the area to check if the remediation actions are effective, or if more needs to be done.

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 Interpretative Report and factsheet. Defence will inform the community if changes to the management approach are required.

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.

Water Treatment Plant reports

Reports from the management of Water Treatment Plants.

Water Treatment Plant Sampling Results RAAF Base Edinburgh Fire Training Area (PDF, 13.71 MB)

Document archive

The RAAF Base Edinburgh 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 - Edinburgh (PDF, 290.48 KB)

Last review: 28 June 2023