Regional Contamination Investigation Program

The Defence Regional Contamination Investigation Program (RCIP) commenced in 2017.

Contaminants are a legacy of past management practices, and industrial and military activities that were acceptable at the time. The Defence Environmental Strategy 2016-2036 and the Defence Environmental Plan identify that Defence will manage existing contamination risks by developing and implementing a long-term remediation program.

A nationally consistent approach to the assessment of site contamination has been adopted under the National Environment Protection (Assessment of Site Contamination) Measure 1999 as amended in 2013.

About

RCIP includes investigations to further identify, understand and address potential risks to human health and the environment.

All investigations are site-specific and follow guidelines according to the regulatory and industry standards. Defence engages specialist consultants to undertake investigations and to develop management and remediation plans.

The investigation process, including the legislative framework, is set out in the Defence Contamination Management Manual.

Contamination risks are assessed against the following criteria to determine prioritisation of program activities.

  • Environment
  • Human health
  • Land use
  • Operations and reputation

The program will:

  • Develop a regional program of investigation, remediation and management integrated with estate planning and infrastructure development to achieve value for money outcomes.
  • Capture, validate and interpret data and maintain an accurate central record of contaminated land and risks for Defence properties.
  • Maintain spatial data, visualisation tools and communication products, such as web pages and fact sheets.
  • Integrate contamination management with estate planning and infrastructure development to achieve value for money outcomes.
  • Conduct activities in accordance with the National Environment Protection (Assessment of Site Contamination) Measure 1999 (as amended 2013).

Sites

The main contaminants under investigation vary depending on the type of facility and activities conducted at the site.

Sites are categorised into:

  • fuel storage facilities
  • military equipment workshop and maintenance activities
  • explosive manufacture
  • weapons training areas
  • demolition and waste disposal areas
  • fire training areas
  • wastewater facilities
  • land acquired from former agricultural activities containing cattle dips and landfills.

Fact sheets for each site are currently being updated and will be published when available.

Contaminants

RCIP targets non-PFAS (per and poly-fluoroalkyl substances) environmental contaminants. RCIP works closely with the PFAS Investigation Management Program where site investigations overlap.

Types of contaminants to be tested may include:

  • fuels and oils (petroleum hydrocarbons)
  • chlorinated hydrocarbons
  • pesticides and herbicides
  • PFAS
  • heavy metals
  • asbestos in soils
  • paints and solvents
  • explosive residues.

Outcomes

The outcomes of the site-specific risk assessment determines if a detailed site investigation is undertaken. The investigation identifies the location of contaminants and the environmental risks.

Findings of the investigations are used to tailor site management and remediation actions.

Where there is a risk that contaminants may be found in surface or groundwater outside of the sites, information is shared with State/Territory authorities and impacted community members.