Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has reviewed the results of a Detailed Site Investigation (DSI) compiled by the Department of Defence to assess the extent of per-and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) contamination at its RAAF Base East Sale site.
The Department started the investigation at the East Sale base in September 2016 as part of a national review of its training sites that used legacy fire-fighting foams containing PFAS.
The DSI investigation at East Sale follows preliminary sampling program results undertaken by the Department at the site in September last year, which found low levels of groundwater and surface water contamination.
The investigation involved sampling of soil, surface, water, drainage lines and groundwater on-base and off-base.
EPA Gippsland Regional Manager, Stephen Lansdell said this was another important step in the long-term process to understand and manage contamination at the site.
While the results showed low levels of contamination, further assessments were needed to identify possible human and ecological exposure to PFAS and associated risks.
“As expected, it is not unusual that contamination has been identified in areas where fire-fighting foam was used quite heavily at the site,” he said.
“EPA has reviewed the report and is satisfied there are no immediate risks based on the current information that’s available.
“The Department has already commenced a Human Health and Ecological Risk Assessment (HHERA), which will involve further comprehensive sampling to identify any potential human and ecological exposure and associated risks.
“EPA is satisfied the Department is taking a rigorous approach and is using the right amount of expertise and engagement in its investigation.
“EPA does not regulate the Department of Defence but is working with them to offer advice and identify ways of achieving the best outcome for the Victorian community.
“This has been a great example of EPA’s increased environmental public health capabilities coming to the fore to provide valuable expertise and review.”
Mr Lansdell said EPA Victoria attended a community meeting on June 8, hosted by the Department of Defence with people neighbouring the East Sale RAAF base to discuss the investigation results.
For further information on the results and investigations at the site, please visit: http://www.defence.gov.au/id/eastsale/
For further information on PFAS, please visit: http://www.epa.vic.gov.au/your-environment/land-and-groundwater/pfas-in-victoria